Helping Patients with Depression and a Sense of Loss

November 2016 | Bassett Healthcare Network-At Home Care RN Betsy Holway recently shared a story showing the importance of home care in meeting not only the medical needs of patients, but also in providing psychosocial supports.

Depression can be a major factor in a patient’s health and wellbeing, and Ms. Holway describes her efforts to help a patient open up about the loss of her husband – a cause of emotional hurt that wasn’t being heard by the patient’s family or friends.   “Last year, I had an elderly patient who was on service with our agency for teaching and monitoring for falls and falls prevention,” says Ms. Holway, an RN who performs admissions, recertifications, routine visits, and resumption-of-care encounters. “I’ve always been very in tune with my patients’ mental and emotional wellbeing as well as their physical health. This particular patient was able to share that she was still depressed because of her husband’s death.”

When Ms. Holway asked her patient how long ago he had passed away, “she answered 12 years. I encouraged her to talk and share about her feelings and thoughts surrounding his death,” Ms. Holway says.

The patient opened up to explain that none of her friends or family lent an open ear about her husband’s death and the depression that it had caused her. “She reported that they would tell her not to cry, and that it would be ok, and time would heal her pain. But no one would talk with her about it after 12 years,” says Ms. Holway. “She shared with me how wonderful her marriage had been, what a good husband he was, and how much she missed him. After only about 20 minutes of talking with her, she verbalized that she felt emotionally better than she had in 12 years. It was a rewarding experience.”

Photo: Betsy Holway and her patient, Madeline.