Stress just doesn’t ever go away, even for aging adults. What matters is how seniors deal with their stress, because the effects of too much stress really can be debilitating. Figuring out what is contributing to stress for seniors makes managing the issue a lot easier. Here are some of the ways stress impacts seniors and some steps they can take to do something about it.
Increased Risk of Chronic Illnesses
Chronic stress exacerbates all sorts of issues, especially chronic health conditions. Higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline resulting from stress cause reactions like higher blood pressure levels, increased inflammation, and diminished immune response. None of these are good for someone’s health, and if a senior already has chronic health problems, they’re likely to be made worse as a result of these factors.
Increased Risk of Cognitive Decline
Stress has also been linked to cognitive decline in seniors. When people experience stress, their bodies release cortisol, which can interfere with the brain’s ability to form new memories and recall old ones. Prolonged exposure to stress can also damage the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. All of this can cause someone to feel as if they’ve got “brain fog,” and seniors may start to worry about bigger issues, like dementia.
More Depression and Anxiety
Seniors are also at increased risk of depression and anxiety in general, but this risk can be exacerbated by stress. Chronic stress can disrupt sleep patterns, increase feelings of isolation and loneliness, and decrease the overall quality of life, all of which can contribute to the development of depression and anxiety. Some seniors may find that tools that helped in the past aren’t as helpful when they’re extremely stressed.
More Physical Symptoms
In addition to the psychological impacts of stress, seniors may also experience a range of physical symptoms, including headaches, muscle tension, digestive problems, and fatigue. These symptoms can be particularly challenging for aging adults, who may already be dealing with health issues that make daily tasks more difficult. Home care providers can make some of these tasks easier, freeing up time for seniors to manage their stress.
How Can Seniors Cope with Stress?
Managing stress is something that is highly individualized, but seniors can try things like exercise, meditation, and even eating a healthier diet. It’s important that they talk with their doctors about some of these changes before implementing them. These activities help to support physical and mental well-being, which is very helpful against stress. Finding social support, including companion care at home, can also be an important coping mechanism. This helps to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness due to stress.
Stress affects everyone differently, but there are tons of similarities as well. Seniors who are under a great deal of stress may need some outside help to remind them to take the best possible care of themselves. Companion care at home can be very helpful with this task, while also offering social interaction that can make a huge difference as well.
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