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Older people missing out on bereavement support

Charity calls for 'one-stop-shop' approach to older people's bereavement support 

Charity calls for 'one-stop-shop' approach to older people's bereavement support

A charity said older people should routinely be offered access to bereavement counselling following a death.

Independent Age (IA) made the call in response to its findings that fewer than 20% of older people had received counselling following the death of a loved one.

The charity's report, Good grief: older people's experiences of partner bereavement, also found bereaved older people were four times more likely to develop depression those who had not lost a partner.

However, the report found older people were less likely to be offered bereavement counselling, with fewer than one in five having received this support.

Charity calls for 'one-stop-shop' approach to older people's bereavement support


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A charity said older people should routinely be offered access to bereavement counselling following a death.

Independent Age (IA) made the call in response to its findings that fewer than 20% of older people had received counselling following the death of a loved one.

The charity's report, Good grief: older people's experiences of partner bereavement, also found bereaved older people were four times more likely to develop depression those who had not lost a partner.

However, the report found older people were less likely to be offered bereavement counselling, with fewer than one in five having received this support.

IA suggested a body or profession that regularly comes into contact with bereaved older people, such as funeral directors, should be responsible for providing information about services and support.

Failure to recognise emotional trauma

The report also highlights how people generally viewed the death of an older person’s partner as ‘just how life goes’, rather than as a traumatic event. This attitude may result in older people not being offered counselling, instead having to rely on family and friends for help. Socially isolated older people are therefore likely to have no support, the report states.

It quotes a 92-year-old man named Ron who participated in the report following the death of his wife.

He said: ‘The dementia nurse use to visit every two weeks to help me understand what dementia was and see if I was alright, but the day my wife died that stopped, and then I had no one at all.’

Support for carers ‘essential’

Alzheimer’s Society policy officer Rachel Hutchings said consideration of how to help bereaved carers cope was critical.  

'As this report highlights, the impact on carers of people with dementia can be huge, with people often describing feeling like the person has "died twice",' she said. 

'It is therefore essential that not only do people with dementia receive high-quality end of life care, but that carers are supported to handle the associated trauma at such a difficult time.'


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