PART TWO: How to Recognize and Relieve Stress in Older Adults
The Cardinal Bay Stress Management Series continues, tackling a topic that’s imperative for all seniors and their caregivers and loved ones. Did you catch Part One? If you missed it, be sure to go back and read about the meaning of stress and the reason why we experience it, why seniors are at greater risk of stress and the many causes and harmful effects of stress in seniors.
Now, you’ll find out how to identify stress in older adults, as well as a variety of simple – but vital – methods to stop its dangerous consequences.
Can You Detect the Signs and Symptoms of Senior Stress?
In our first installment, we discussed the link between unmanaged stress and inflammation, and how they can lead to or worsen a wide range of physical and mental issues and diseases. But even though stress poses a serious threat, sometimes, the warnings can really sneak up on you. And because everyone is different, the signs can differ widely. Here are examples of the most common manifestations of stress that may interfere with a senior’s quality of life:
- Anxiety; feelings of worry, sadness or pressure
- Increased irritability
- Poor concentration
- Difficulty with decision making
- Changes in eating habits
- Digestive issues; stomachaches; indigestion
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Disturbances or changes in sleeping habits
- Social withdrawal
- Allergic reactions (skin rashes, asthma, etc.)
- Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol
Note that this list isn’t exhaustive, and individuals might exhibit just one or even all of these symptoms. Still, the best first step toward conquering stress is establishing that it exists.
5 Basic Strategies for Relieving Stress in Seniors
Stress also causes a lot of unhealthy behaviors, which can then negatively impact your or your aging loved one’s comprehensive wellness. The antidote: Aid in minimizing stress by encouraging healthy habits, like these constructive lifestyle changes outlined below.
- Good Nutrition and Hydration: Enjoying a nourishing, balanced diet helps counteract inflammation’s damaging effects, boost the immune system naturally and energize the body and mind. By drinking sufficient water, seniors yield a variety of health benefits. Simply adding another couple of glasses per day can improve digestion, ease headaches and fuel energy, as well as increase brain performance, mental sharpness and emotional stability.
- Physical Exercise Regimen : Regular movement provides vast gains, which encompass increased strength, balance, coordination and agility and a reduction in blood pressure, arthritis pain, chronic illness and even bad moods. Moreover, physical exercise releases stress hormones. Fitness programs geared toward seniors specifically and spanning a wide range of ability levels are available and can make a world of difference. Incorporate a routine, either seated or standing, solo or – even better – with a companion or group of friends. Opportunities include stretching, walking, yoga, Pilates, tai chi, Sit & Fit Aerobics and dance classes.
- Adequate Sleep: Consider restful and sufficient sleep absolutely essential for healthy physical and mental function. It regulates and manages stress hormones and prevents stress-related insomnia and other negative effects. When sleeping, the body repairs itself, and the mind gets the break it requires. REM sleep, the deep sleep cycle, particularly helps regulate memory and mood. Therefore, if a senior is not getting proper sleep on a regular basis, it can worsen their experience and tolerance of stress, rendering it a much higher health risk. Enhance sleep quality through small changes, like a comfortable, supportive mattress aligned to the senior’s needs and preferences, and of course, by establishing optimal bedtime routines that ensure enough sleep.
- Positive Thinking: Rather than watching news and consuming media that cause greater stress, focus on uplifting and encouraging stories, articles and books that can produce a more positive point of view. Read soul-soothing spiritual texts. Ideally, seniors should join a congregation or an inspirational support group, such as a Bible study, to surround themselves with like-minded friends. Cognitive exercises can also assist in this regard by enabling the brain to become more adaptable, to regulate stress hormones and to combat the effects of ongoing stress. To support yourself or your aging loved one, stimulate the mind with frequent mental activities – puzzles, trivia games, crafts, hobbies and more.
- Social Interactions: Because engaging in social activities has been proven to lower anxiety – among a multitude of distinct benefits – it’s crucial to take advantage of both casual and meaningful opportunities to connect with others. Look for every valuable avenue, from simple phone conversations to shared meals and activities, from afternoon tea to a calming walk in the park. Many older adults find that moving into a senior living community enables them to foster relationships daily and effortlessly, to overcome the challenge of stress and to enjoy their lives more fully.
Follow our blog, and stay tuned for the next installments of our Stress Management Series. We’ll be covering easy stress-relieving activities that seniors can do, plus steps that caregivers and loved ones can take to decrease stress in seniors.
Rely on Relaxed, Resort-Style Senior Living
Designed to relieve daily stressors and staffed by skilled, attentive teams, Cardinal Bay’s senior living communities provide worry-free independent living, assisted living and memory care in Texas and Oklahoma. Our residents enjoy a highly social, relationship-centered environment and a wealth of stimulating activities, ultimately leading to healthier, richer and more fulfilling lives.
Be sure to tour the communities you like and speak with staff members and residents to guarantee you have all the vital information in hand to make the best decision. Subscribe to our blog.