Mental health and grief in older people


Grief is a common experience after loss. Older adults are likely to encounter the loss of a loved one more often than other age groups. Acute grief normally evolves over time into integrated grief but for some, grief may be prolonged, severe and impairing. Prolonged grief can be associated with higher rates of depression and suicidal thoughts. It is, therefore, pivotal to identify and support individuals at risk of developing prolonged grief. There is evidence that GPs do not always have sufficient time, skills and re-sources to offer such support. In addition, older people may be reluctant to discuss their mental health and grief with their family, GP or other care staff. Grief in older people may, consequently, go undetected and untreated. This project seeks to examine the effects of grief in older people on healthcare use from the perspective of (a) the older bereaved person who is experiencing grief and (b) GPs who are treating grieving older people.


NARI, RMIT, Department of Health and Human and Services, Federation University, Deakin University, University of Melbourne, Monash University, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network, Carers Victoria.

1. Mixed-methods approach using quantitative questionnaires and qualitative interviews with older people who are experiencing grief and additional interviews with GPs who are treating older grieving people.
2. Identify how older people are coping with grief, which bereavement support services they use (if any) and how GPs respond to grief in older people.


Status update:

Ethics has been submitted to Deakin University HREC for review.


Project update