Seniors may seem like they have an easy life, enjoying retirement and grown children. However, elderly adults can face a lot of challenges that trigger stress. While everyone does experience times where life’s challenges overwhelm them and cause stress, seniors are less equipped to deal with it. Because prolonged stress can cause health problems, elderly adults should avoid it when possible and learn tips on how to manage stress.
Because April is Stress Awareness Month, family caregivers have the chance to help their aging relatives learn about what might cause stress and how to minimize its effects on their life.
Why Is Stress Harmful for Aging Relatives?
Stress happens when the senses perceive a threat or challenge. This causes the brain to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones flood the body and cause physical reactions such as faster breathing and heart rate. After the stress has passed, the body returns to normal. However, chronic stress puts wear and tear on the body, causing health issues.
Common health issues that result from chronic stress include high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, heart disease, poor memory and more. Younger adults are more able to rebound from the effects of stress, but seniors are not, due to age and sometimes illness and injury. Excessive stress can pave the way to poor health and a shortened life.
Causes of Stress in Aging Relatives
Stress comes from numerous sources in seniors. They worry about things like finances, shrinking social circles, declining physical and mental health, loss of friends and family, and losing their independence. They may experience panic attacks, anxiety, mood swings, lack of focus, poor diet and insomnia. This can cause even more health issues as they struggle to overcome their stress.
Ways to Manage Stress in Aging Relatives
Family caregivers have an important role in helping their elderly relatives eliminate triggers of stress and manage the symptoms when possible. For example, some aging adults stress over their limited physical abilities and worry about how they will take care of themselves. Family caregivers can hire home care aides to assist around the home and with grooming and hygiene needs, relieving the stress.
When seniors become stressed, family caregivers can implement some activities and techniques to help. Effective de-stressors include building a support network of friends, family members, home care aides, clergy, doctors and more. Exercise, a good diet and plenty of restful sleep can also help seniors withstand stress. Meditation, owning a pet, therapy, good books and music are other ways to relax and find balance.
Stress is definitely going to appear in an elderly person’s life but family caregivers can work hard to find solutions so that it doesn’t overwhelm them. They can also guide their elderly loved ones to take time to implement techniques to reduce the effects of stress.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Princeton Junction, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.