Prolonged Grief Disorder in the Elderly
Experiencing grief after a loss is normal and healthy. However, when that grief is prolonged, it can have some serious side effects if left unchecked.
Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) is generally described as feelings of intense grief which lasts more than six months. The side effects (and warning signs) can include such things as rapid weight loss, isolation and depression, development of functional impairments, thoughts and feelings of suicide. Someone suffering from PGD may become ill more frequently and with more severity.
PGD can also often be identified by the severity of the grief. If your loved one is experiencing grief so severe that they are unable to care for themselves, they may be suffering from PGD. They may exhibit difficulty adjusting to the new “normal” of life without their lost loved one.
As a caregiver of someone who has recently suffered the loss of a loved one, it is important to be alert for any symptoms of grief which may extend beyond what is normal. If you see signs of PGD, suggest meeting with a professional – someone trained in grief counseling.
We can all recover from grief, even PGD, with patience and assistance from those around us and professionals trained in this area. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Cheri Elson, J.D.
Gray Matters Consulting