Kim Elliott, RN, Expert on Healthy Aging

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18 April 2017

dealing with senior stress

Everyone experiences stress, but as we age, added pressure can take a serious toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. Seniors have a more difficult time coping with stress because the body’s natural stress response slows down. According to the American Institute of Stress, chronic stress can accelerate aging, reduce your immune system’s response to infection and delay wound healing.

It is important to recognize the symptoms of stress so you can address it. Here are some of the signs you may see in yourself or a loved one:

  • Changes in eating habits, such as over-eating or loss of appetite
  • Mood swings, anxiety or poor concentration
  • Physical signs, like body aches or physical illness
  • Isolation, such as retreating from routines or missing outings

While stress is unavoidable, there are ways to manage it. The first step is to identify the cause. Just as your physical response changes, your triggers do too. When you are younger, work, children and the demands of home-life may cause stress. As we age, that changes. The loss of a loved one, loss of physical ability, or paying bills on a fixed income might be the reason.

Once you’ve identified the cause, find ways to manage your stress. Here are a few tips:

  • Talk about it with someone you trust, whether it is a loved one or professional.
  • Ask for help! Having someone help with daily chores or grocery shopping might be the relief you need.
  • Get a check-up to rule out any underlying health issues, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise.
  • Find relaxation method that calms your brain, such as yoga or meditation.

If your stress level is more than you can handle, consider senior living. Brookdale offers a variety of options that can make your life less stressful. On top of handling daily tasks like cooking, cleaning and medication management, senior living provides community support, friendships and a calendar full of activities.


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