Cardinal Bay Stress Management Series
PART FOUR: 6 Big Steps to Decrease Stress in Aging Loved Ones
High-stress levels are always harmful, regardless of a person’s age – but they’re acutely detrimental to the health of older adults. That’s why Cardinal Bay created this Stress Management Series, so you can be vigilant and help either yourself or the senior in your life. In our three earlier installments, we covered the risks, causes, and effects of stress, how to recognize and relieve it, and the best activities for reducing senior stress. (Go check them out, if you haven’t already.)
For this concluding chapter, we’ll walk you through the six big steps caregivers should take to ensure their loved ones enjoy a future without unwarranted anxiety. Follow these footprints, and you’ll be well on the path to stress-free success!
Step #1: Demonstrate Your Understanding and Devoted Support
Begin by trying to see things from your loved one’s point of view. Realize that they are experiencing a different and potentially frightening season of life, for the very first time. You must understand they could be grieving a multitude of losses, including their sense of capability and freedom.
Because relationships with family and friends greatly influence an aging person’s mental and emotional well-being, it is important that they feel your love, patience, and encouragement. If needed during this gradual process of adjustment, seek guidance from a trusted physician or psychologist, who can offer helpful techniques for dealing with senior stress.
Step #2: Engage in Those Difficult Conversations
For many people, this is the hardest step of all – but it’s imperative to leap, if you want to enable loved ones to age most beneficially. Of course, even in families that share exceptional communication, this can be especially challenging, as you both start to recognize their diminishing abilities and struggle to discuss this new stage of your journey. While you may think it’s a delicate subject to broach, your parents are also likely aware of their own physical and cognitive shifts and feel vulnerable speaking about it. Overcome any reluctance, so that you can make sense of the changes, talk comfortably about the complexities, and plan for a bright future.
Step #3: Provide Plenty of Opportunities to Socialize
Cardinal Bay’s relationship-centered philosophy and research prove time and again that socialization is important for seniors. We consider it the secret to healthier, happier, and longer lives. On the flip side, unfortunately, elderly people are particularly vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness, and they suffer an array of mental and physical conditions (anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, cognitive decline, etc.) that are linked directly to decreased interactions.
Luckily, you can help your loved ones engage with their peers and the greater community. Facilitate their visits with family members, friends, and neighbors, plus their participation in favorite hobbies and interests, charity events, worship services, and outings to local shops, restaurants, libraries, parks, movie theaters, and more.
Step #4: Guarantee Good Nutrition, Hydration, and Physical Exercise
The positive effects of a well-rounded routine cannot be understated, and those who practice one reap plentiful benefits – body, mind, and spirit. For your elderly parents, such a wellness regimen can support them in feeling better and gaining confidence, during a phase when they might be battling with health and self-image concerns.
Educate yourself and them about the myriad foods they should eat and also avoid, to prevent complications with changing digestion, dental and medication issues, and more. For example, raw and/or cruciferous vegetables, beans, dairy, salt, caffeine, and grapefruit are among those that can be harmful in certain situations. Whether at home or – even better – alongside a group of friends, you should also cheer them on in a stress-releasing fitness program safe for seniors and matched to their abilities. Light, age-appropriate chores, stretching, walking, yoga, aerobics, dance, and lots more options can release stress hormones and make a world of difference.
Step #5: Assess the Safety of Your Parents’ Home
Can your mother navigate the kitchen like she used to? Is your father straining to climb the stairs? Maybe the space in their rooms and hallways are too restricted for a walker? Or does the bathroom require rails to prevent slips and falls? Stay alert to exactly how user-friendly their home is, as the risks that surround them are painful, dangerous, and possibly even fatal.
To minimize these age-related stressors and strive to protect your loved ones, consider the logical solutions: renovations to their home and employing an in-home caregiver (expensive and time-intensive investments), or aging in place at a senior living facility that is secure and accessible and provides 24/7 supervision with daily living activities.
Step #6: Don’t Wait – Put a Plan in Place for Future Changes
Rushing an important decision in the face of an incident or an accident is never ideal. Before that happens, hold a family discussion to address anticipated or potential changes. Involve your parents, and allow time to warm up to and understand their options, so they don’t feel helpless and like everyone else is making decisions for and without them. That way, you can collect the vital facts and explore the best possibilities, whether it’s for health care needs, arranging for power of attorney, moving into a local independent living, assisted living or memory care community, or another significant topic.
Do you foresee resistance or extreme anxiety? Bring a trusted healthcare professional into the conversation. With all of the essential people and information gathered, you can create a great plan that pleases everyone and, happily, reduces anxiety for your senior parents.
Bonus Step: Rely on Relaxed, Resort-Style Senior Living
Perhaps, it is time to consider a beneficial move into a place where a skilled, attentive team can continuously care for their total well-being. As a Cardinal Bay resident, your loved one will take advantage of daily, numerous opportunities to participate in every healthy habit and stress-reducing pursuit that our experts recommend.
Designed to relieve stressors, Cardinal Bay’s senior living communities in Texas and Oklahoma provide worry-free independent living, assisted living, and memory care. The highly social, relationship-centered environment, combined with a wealth of stimulating activities, ultimately leads to healthier, richer, and more fulfilling lives.
Choose one of our local communities and schedule a complimentary visit to see for yourself how our residents thrive. Or learn more with our free, valuable resource, “Your Elementary Guide to Senior Living and Care Options in Texas and Oklahoma.” Get your copy now.