Stress is a normal part of our everyday lives, and most of us will experience it at least every now and then. But, when stress becomes too much, it can have a serious impact on your overall health and wellbeing, leaving you feeling drained, tired, and more susceptible to aches and pains. Older people are particularly vulnerable to stress as they navigate the ageing process and deal with all the changes and challenges that come along with it. Understanding the cause and effect of stress, and working to find healthy ways to manage it, is essential for anybody caring for an older person.
Common Causes of Stress in the Elderly
Older people experience stress for a range of reasons. However, they may be more susceptible to stress caused by certain unique situations, which include:
- Health problems: Being at a higher risk of illness and injury is often a natural part of aging. Some chronic conditions are often more prevalent in the elderly, such as heart disease, mobility problems, arthritis, memory deterioration, and diabetes. Dealing with these conditions can be stressful at the best of times.
- Loss of loved ones: One of the saddest things about getting older is that people in your life are also getting older and coming to the end of their lives. Many elderly people are dealing with grief and loss, which can be especially difficult to cope with.
- Financial concerns: Worryingly, many older people are on a small, fixed income such as a state pension, and struggle to make things meet – especially during the wintertime, when they may need to pay significant bills to keep their houses warm.
- Social isolation: For many older people, social isolation is a main cause of stress, especially in those who live alone. Being isolated and lonely is one of the top contributors to stress, depression, and anxiety. Moving to a nursing home in Sidmouth can help solve this issue.
- Changes in a living situation: While it’s often in the best interests of the individual to move to accommodation where they can access the most suitable standard of care, a change in living situation can be huge, and stressful for an older person. The impact of the transition on elderly people should never be underestimated, and every effort to help them settle should be made.
How Stress Affects Older People
Stress can significantly impact physical and mental health, which is why caregivers and relatives should understand the signs and have plans in place to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. Stressed-out seniors may suffer from a decreased quality of life, more physical ailments, and poor mental health.
Managing Stress in the Elderly
Older people can try out a range of healthy strategies and coping mechanisms to reduce the impact of stress.
- Exercise: Regular, appropriate exercise such as walking, swimming, or chair exercises can help with improving overall health and reducing stress levels.
- Social support: One of the best things that you can do to help your senior friend or relative feel less stressed is to simply spend time with them.
- Therapy: Counselling can be an ideal way for seniors to speak about what’s worrying them and learn effective strategies for coping with stress.
Stress is a normal and expected part of life, but high stress levels can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of older people. By understanding the signs and what can be done to support them, caregivers and relatives can help older people live a more stress-free, fulfilling life.