Long-term stress reduces an individual’s quality of life. While people of all ages experience certain levels of stress as a normal part of life, stress in seniors can have an adverse effect on their physical health and emotional well-being. This reality is especially pivotal since older folks tend to process stress differently than younger people. Consequently, stress in the elderly should be alleviated as soon as possible. Proper elderly care is beneficial for helping your loved ones manage their stress.
How does stress affect the elderly?
Aging individuals are less able to cope with stress in comparison to their younger counterparts. When people grow older, bodily cells age, too. Seniors’ natural stress responses take a nosedive as their resilience, heart health and lung capacity diminish.
Chronic illnesses impact the stress response in seniors. A physically ill body is a burden to bear, causing a host of stress responses that an aging person may have difficulty bouncing back from. Examples of physical limitations to which a senior may react stressfully include stroke, arthritis and body aches.
A decline in cognitive capabilities also produces stress. Issues with memory may include failing to recognize places, loved ones and common words—abilities that once were natural and instantaneous. Difficulty concentrating and poor judgment are also cognitive problems that result in stress.
Stress, when it is chronic, has serious and negative implications for a senior. Existing ailments can be amplified if the aging individual has few resources to properly cope with stressors. Over the long term, stress in a senior damages health and can lead to stress-related illnesses.
Cognitive impairment can occur in continuing, unresolved stress. Short-term memory issues develop when, in stressful situations, the stress hormones flood the brain and the brain is unable to work as efficiently. Memory issues that result from stress have no correlation to dementia or age-linked memory loss.
While quality sleep is helpful in flushing out the brain’s stress hormones, many older adults experience problems with getting a good night’s rest. Stress also prevents seniors from getting back to sleep once they are awake. The result is that these stress hormones worsen cognitive abilities over time.
Why do some seniors experience stress?
The challenges associated with growing older are many. The physical decline that commonly contributes to stress includes losing hearing, vision or mobility. Emotional stresses result from losing significant loved ones. Even having excessive and unstructured free time can lead to stress.
Plus, older folks with financial difficulties are likely to live with tension. Money problems are known to intensify during retirement, leading to some seniors with plenty of time on their hands but little financial security to experience bouts of stress.
What are the signs of stress in the elderly?
Symptoms of stress in older people are likely to interfere with how they normally go about their daily lives. Loved ones should be concerned when signs of stress overtake the seniors’ daily life:
Overeating is a coping mechanism for some seniors who are stressed. Losing one’s usual appetite is also a cause for concern. When seniors have bouts of indigestion or lose a significant amount of weight, family members should consider that stress might be a contributing factor.
Emotional signals that point to unresolved stress in seniors’ lives include increased irritability, unprompted sadness and crying spells. If depression sets in, stress may have triggered the bleak state. Anxiety, too, can be associated with and indicate stress in a senior.
Physical indicators of stress involve disturbances in usual sleep patterns. When a senior is unable to sleep soundly, stress hormones in the brain have no chance to clear out. Heart palpitations and tension headaches also appear when the aging individual is stressed.
Seniors who isolate may be overwhelmed with stress. Isolation is an especially telling factor when the individual is characteristically social and involved in community or family affairs. When the seniors stop engaging in once-pleasurable pursuits, stress levels should be evaluated.
How do loved ones help seniors alleviate stress?
A relaxation response is the opposite to stress. Helping seniors strengthen their ease in daily life profoundly reduces stress in the individual. A relaxation response decreases heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and the stress response. Several age-appropriate activities promote relaxation.
Yoga, tai chi, deep breathing exercises and meditation are all excellent solutions to stress. These activities are especially accessible to seniors, requiring little physical strength and exertion. Seniors who engage in classes tailored for those 55 and over benefit immensely and reduce their stress levels.
Cognitive behavioral therapy also works wonders in seniors who experience various life pressures. Therapists challenge seniors’ negative thinking patterns and promote healthy ones, alleviating stress in due course. Eating healthy, exercising, socializing and pursuing enjoyable activities also improve stress levels.
Stress management in seniors is an achievable goal, especially when loved ones are available to encourage healthy life choices. When family members are too busy to give their aging loved ones a helping hand, services provided by professional caregivers are a practical solution.
Assisting Hands Home Care in West Palm Beach and Boynton Beach, Florida, is prepared to guide seniors toward healthier living. Our staff of professional caregivers provides compassionate, non-medical home health care to assist with all the aspects necessary to thrive in a community.
Our comprehensive elder care services include assistance with transportation, grooming and meal preparation. When your senior loved one tinkers with the idea of joining a bridge club, our reliable caregivers will provide the transportation to make social outings a regular activity. We also provide companionship services to reduce isolation. Healthy meals are prepared by our caregivers so that your loved one consumes the right amount of nutrients each day.
Caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care are essential to helping make important life activities like these a reality for seniors undergoing stress. With the help of caregivers, seniors have the chance to fully recover without further succumbing to the stresses of aging.
Families and their elderly loved ones in the communities of West Palm Beach and Boynton Beach, Florida, rely on Assisting Hands Home Care for our comprehensive, in-home senior care services.