People experience stress at all phases of life, but many family caregivers fail to realize that their elderly adults may be suffering, too. While the stress triggers of raising a young family or starting a career are no longer factors in senior stress, new challenges arise, such as declining health and the loss of a spouse. Other common contributors of senior stress include being alone, needing help with daily tasks, managing finances, housekeeping, loss of driving privileges, and chronic illnesses or pain.
Because April is Stress Awareness Month, it’s an ideal time for family caregivers to consider the factors that contribute to stress in the elderly and ways to manage it.
Types of Stress in Elderly Adults
-When a person is stressed, the brain triggers the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that flood the body and provoke reactions. These hormones are particularly hard to regulate in elderly bodies and several studies show that stress can actually speed up the process of aging.
-Stress can be physical or emotional, and when endured over a prolonged period, it can negatively affect certain aspects of the body. Examples include a weaker immune system, slower healing for wounds, high blood pressure, greater risk for heart disease, poor memory, anxiety, depression and more.
-Long-term stress can inflict negative health effects on the body, but younger adults have more natural defenses against it. Elderly adults will be healthier and happier if they learn more about how to reduce stress in their lives and how to manage it when it does happen. With support from family members, friends, clergy and various elderly care services, aging adults can neutralize the negative effects of stress.
Stress Management for Elderly Adults
-While it may be impossible to eliminate the causes of stress in an elderly person’s life, family caregivers can work to implement stress management techniques that can minimize the harmful effects. The first step is to keep a positive outlook and have several outlets for emotional expression. Getting social support is critical and friends and family members can play an important role in this.
-Other effective stress management techniques include regular exercise and meditation. Even elderly adults can participate in some kind of fitness program, which reduces cortisol levels in the body. Meditation, prayer and mindfulness exercises can also help.
-Family members can focus on reducing or eliminating sources of stress where possible. Many seniors stress over finances, taking care of themselves, being alone, eating properly and getting to and from appointments. Family members can take advantage of elderly care assistants to provide full-time or part-time care for their loved ones.
When elderly adults learn to reduce their stress levels and manage the effects of stress, they have a much better chance of living a longer and healthier life. Eliminating stress overload is a wonderful goal for aging adults, and Stress Awareness Month is the ideal place to begin.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Elder Care in Media, PA, please contact the friendly staff at Suma Home Care. Call today: 484-200-7347