Example 5: The Grieving Widower

Mr. S still grieves his wife’s death

Mr. S is 74-years old who lived alone in a small house. He was alert and oriented, but had a flat affect (appears depressed).  There was a strong smell of mold encountered upon entering the house. The living environment was disheveled and the furniture was scattered throughout the house. Dog feces were observed on the floors. Dirty dishes filled the kitchen sink. The mold growth was apparent as if the dishes were there for days. Empty bags of fast food and empty cups piled on the floor. The refrigerator was dirty, had a bad smell, and did not have a functioning light. The bathroom was unkempt and dysfunctional. Mr. S had a strong body odor and wore a torn shirt that had dark spots.

After talking with Mr. S for a few minutes, he discussed the death of his wife, who passed away a few years earlier. Since her death, Mr. S had been reluctant to allow people into the house, even his own children. One of Mr. S’s sons stated “we attempted to help him to clean the house for him, but he refused. We even offered to hire a maid to go in and help, but he also refused.” He continued to say that “my brothers, my sister and I have failed to convince to take care of the problems, but learned to just ignore that there were problems.”

Mr. S had poorly controlled hypertension, congestive heart failure secondary to hypertension, and chronic edema. He frequently complained of chronic lethargy and disinterest in social activities. In fact, the only social interaction he has is with his son, who lives across town, every few weeks. The father never mentioned that his bathroom, refrigerator are dysfunctional or other problems existed.

Mr. S skipped the usual church visits since his wife’s death. Although Mr. S cherishes his family, he prevents them from coming inside the house. Mr. S was found to have the capacity to make decision about himself. He said that he has been under the weather and that’s why he did not fix the refrigerator or clean the dishes. Also during that time, the dogs would leave their wastes inside the house. He refused to allow any person to enter his house and poised the caseworker that he would call if he thought he would need help.

Mr. S’s children agreed to respect their father’s wishes for privacy. They told their father that if you need our help to call.


Last updated: June 7, 2020 at 16:46 pm by
I. M. Abumaria, Doctor of Nursing Practice
Version 2.00