The MARC project Lost in grief: An in-depth exploration of the effects of grief on older people’s healthcare use, is recipient of an RM Gibson Research Fund grant.

The research project will examine how grief affects older people’s wellbeing and healthcare use, identify gaps in existing provision of bereavement support services, and make recommendations to address these gaps.

Research lead, Dr Katrin Gerber, says the project will be significant for increasing understanding of grief in older people, and for structuring health services to cater for a population in growing need.

Dr Gerber says, “Grief is the natural response to a significant loss, but without sufficient support grief can have severe and long-lasting consequences.

“Older people are particularly at risk because they are more likely to experience the death of loved ones than any other age group,” she says. “However, grief in older people often goes undetected and unsupported.”

“This may relate to older people’s reluctance to talk about their mental health as well as primary care staff’s limited time and training to detect and adequately respond to signs of grief.”

As part of a larger project, the study will use qualitative, in-depth interviews to capture the lived experiences of GPs and practice nurses in identifying and responding to grief in older people.

“The aim is to identify gaps in the existing bereavement support system and actionable recommendations for how to address these gaps,” says Dr Gerber.

The RM Gibson Research Fund is a sub-fund of the AAG Research Trust and supports early career researchers in the diverse fields related to ageing to enable the translation of evidence into policy and practice.

Project contact: Dr Katrin Gerber [email protected]