Two elderly people sitting on a bench in Central Park NYCThe American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) states that the leading cause of death amongst persons over age 65 is falling.

Secondary to the complications stemming from this are heart disease, cancer and cerebrovascular disease. While these issues affect a vast number of elderly citizens, death affects all. Old person carers should be aware of the signs that come before death, as they require specific skills to handle. Namely, the signs before death in the elderly include labored breathing, decreased appetite, mental confusion or disorientation, social withdrawal, decrease in bodily excretions (due to the loss in appetite), and swelling of the appendages.

An Open Mind. As stated in the previous post, the last stages of life are marked by a complex labyrinth of emotions. To these states, one must react with an open mind, to be exact an understanding one. Phrases that are atypical in situations involving a seeming victim-“I’m sorry”, “What can I do to help?” and “I understand.” should be avoided. In this scenario, what is necessary is an attentive ear and mind. In caring for the dying elderly, one must remember that they are not victims and should not be treated as such.

Support. Because caring for the dying is emotional taxing, caregivers need support. Bearing witness to the slow withdrawal from life that is the process of dying takes a lot (to say the least); this should be remembered as the process is taking place. Starting the process of handling grief as it occurs might also be a good idea. While it is a unique, dynamic process dependent on whom it affects, therapists and counselors might be able to help. The position of dying elderly should also be in the forefront: their comfort will require both physical and emotional support.

Legal Plans. While ones emotional world will go through numerous processes, it is necessary to remember the world outside of that one, in which wills and funeral arrangements must be handled. Ensuring that the legal documents of your loved one are in order will make the process less complicated.

These three necessities will help you handle the care of the dying elderly. It is a complicated process which requires both preemptive and defensive moves along the way.

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