We've recently discussed stress in the caregiver and how you should care for yourself while caring for others in order to prevent caregiver burnout. On today’s Quick Tip episode, we'll be taking a look at the warning signs of stress in seniors. After going through the signs and symptoms, risks, and common causes of stress in seniors, we can then begin identifying how family, caregivers, and friends can help to minimize stress in their aging loved ones.
Stress affects all age groups, but it specifically impacts seniors more than any other age group. In older adults, the immune system isn't able to work as well as it once was. It takes longer to fight off common ailments, such as the cold. Stress affects older adults in a similar way.
When we're young, we recover from illnesses quickly because our immune system is working at top speed all the time. We're able to manage stress better when our immune systems are not compromised. But as we age, our immune system gets run down and is easily overwhelmed. When our bodies are busy fighting illnesses and diseases, stress can be extremely hard to manage.
Stress can appear in numerous ways. As a caregiver, you might be the first person to notice the signs of stress in your loved one. According to the Institute of Aging, the most common signs of stress to look for are:
This is by no means an exhaustive list of signs. Stress affects everyone in different ways. If you think your loved one may be showing signs of stress, make sure to talk to their doctor. Signs of stress can just as easily be symptoms of other undiagnosed illnesses or diseases.
Stress happens. Everyone gets stressed and shows some of the symptoms we listed earlier. Chronic stress, however, is long-lasting and can be very dangerous for older adults. According to Yale Medicine, chronic stress is a consistent sense of feeling pressured and overwhelmed over a long period of time. The American Psychological Association says chronic stress can be the cause of issues like anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. If not properly taken care of, chronic stress can also lead to heart disease, depression, obesity, and other major illnesses.
There are many things that cause stress in older adults. Existing health issues are a major contributor to chronic stress. It may seem like an endless cycle at times, as stress may make the illness worse, and the illness also causes them to stress more. Losing friends and loved ones and worrying about losing friends and loved ones in the future causes most everyone, not just older adults, stress.
Financial responsibilities, everyday tasks and chores, adjusting to needing a caregiver, the loss of something constant, like a career, that has recently ended are some of the main sources of stress that many older adults are facing today.
For older adults with caregivers, the caregivers, family, and friends are going to be the first to notice the signs of stress in a senior.
They could be having problems with their short-term memory. You may ask them what show they watched the day before and they can't recall, even if it's something they watch regularly. You might notice they aren't eating as much as normal, or they're eating more than they usually do. Whatever signs they may be showing of stress, it's the people they're around the most that will likely notice first.
Now that you've recognized the signs of chronic stress in your loved one, the next step is to talk to the senior about their stress levels. Oftentimes, they know that they are stressed, but they don't know how to manage it on their own. Sometimes, talking about whatever is causing them stress is enough. They may be grieving the loss of a partner and being able to talk about it with either yourself, a friend, or even a counselor, will help their stress subside.
Exercise and diet is a great way to manage stress. If the senior is able to walk around safely, going on a nature walk, or even a walk around the house, can greatly help the situation. Yoga and other forms of meditation are also great for combating stress.
It's also important to find ways to manage your own stress as a caregiver. Chronic stress can have lasting negative effects on your health. Learning to reduce and manage stress when we are young can result in fewer health problems when we're older.
Helping an older adult identify their stressors is another important step to helping them reduce and manage their stress. Just being able to identify what is triggering their stress may help solve most of their issues. Once they understand what their stressors are, you can work on a plan together to reduce their overall stress.
If you are unsure how to help your loved one with their chronic stress, that's okay. Consult a physician or mental health professional. They can help determine what is causing your loved one's stress and the best course of action to take. They will also be able to help you make a long-term stress management plan specifically tailored to the older adult.
Minimizing stress in older adults can potentially minimize other health problems. If you notice your loved one exhibiting any of the signs or symptoms we have mentioned, discuss it with the older adult, and if necessary, their doctor. Stress has many harmful symptoms that can make life difficult and uncomfortable for your loved one. Managing their stress quickly will result in a better quality of life, for them and for you.
We want to wish everyone a safe and Happy 4th of July and say thank you for joining us here at All Home Care Matters, All Home Care Matters is here for you and to help families as they navigate long-term care issues. Please visit us at allhomecarematters.com there is a private secure fillable form there where you can give us feedback, show ideas, or if you have questions. Every form is read and responded to. If you know someone is who could benefit from this episode and please make sure to share it with them.
Remember, you can listen to the show on any of your favorite podcast streaming platforms and watch the show on our YouTube channel and make sure to hit that subscribe button, so you'll never miss an episode. Join us next time on All Home Care Matters where we will be asking the question What is the Difference Between Live-In Care and 24-Hour Care. This is an issue that comes up quite often when families are exploring options of care for their loved ones – and surprisingly they are not the same thing.
If you can never get enough true crime... Congratulations, you’ve found your people.
This is what the news should sound like. The biggest stories of our time, told by the best journalists in the world. Hosted by Michael Barbaro. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m.
Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.