Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Death in Elderly

  1. Apr 14, 2018 #1

    Fervent Freyja

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Has anyone heard of a particular phenomenon where elderly living together begin dying in a chainlike reaction close together?

    4 months ago I lost a constant in my life. I found her dead in her bed. It was one of the most gruesome and shocking events in my life. One of my daughter's biggest supporters, my grandmother-in-law. I am still grieving and although I have witnessed someone die in front of me before and helped others pass comfortably, this is much harder, as she was a true constant in my life. I loved her.

    She cared for 2 elder sisters in the home. I did not expect for her other sister to pass a few days ago. I did not find her, but I saw that she was in the fetal position and had fell in her bedroom. This was also unexpected for me, as I have still been checking up on the sister's since I separated from my husband, and she had been doing well last Friday when I dropped my daughter off for time with them! I saw no signs of her death being near.

    Is there a term for this phenomenon? Everyone keeps telling me that it's common for elderly to start dying around the same time if they are close, is this true?

    I am worried about the last sister in the home, although she is going to live with the youngest sister, I am afraid she is not far behind. She had been by the other sister's side for close to 80 years, neither married, and they always lived together.

    I am afraid she will die soon from heartbreak. Is this an established, real phenomenon, for elderly that are intimate or live together to die so close together? Does anyone have any links to research on these matters?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2018 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member


    I've found this article suggesting that "broken heart syndrome" comes into play. It seems there is some basis behind elderly intimate couples dying together, often through having a broken heart (massive amounts of stress).

    However, I wouldn't expect that it would occur in any elderly people living together, but specifically those with strong emotional bonds (usually intimate relationships lasting for decades).

    Edit: I feel that two sisters living with each other for a long times might see immense stress seeing another pass away regardless of them living together. However, I'm sure everything will pan out fine, the science behind this isn't very solid.
  4. Apr 15, 2018 at 2:54 PM #3

    Fervent Freyja

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Stress on the heart? Immune system?

    I am trying to set some preventative measures in place. I have instructed the new caregiver sister to ensure she does not stop eating and drinking. She will be following up with her doctor. But I am wondering if there is anything else we can do to prevent her from dying in the near future? I am trying to find a medical cause for this heartbreak phenomenon.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted