The Impact of Stress on Senior Health

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Stress is commonly attributed to hectic work and family schedules in adults. However, despite the fact that a senior’s schedule may be “slowing down,” this doesn’t mean that the adults in this age group are any less stressed.

As a local Vancouver home care agency, our caregivers have seen how stress can impact a senior’s daily life. From concerns about finances to changes in physical abilities, life after retirement is often filled with many unknowns that can result in feelings of stress and anxiety. While our caregivers assist seniors with daily activities to help minimize stress by promoting independence and stability, it’s important that families learn more about the impact of stress on senior health, and how they can look for signs of stress in their aging loved ones.

Stress and Mental Health

Long-term stress is a large contributor to emotional and cognitive health problems. In fact, the University of Rochester Medical Center says that depression is the leading consequence of senior stress. Sadness and lack of interest in life are common with depression, as well as feeling generally ill. Many seniors also lose interest in eating, which can cause significant nutritional deficiencies. Stress can even cause brain cell damage, leading to cognitive problems such as memory loss.

The Physical Effects

Stress is often regarded as a mental problem, but the fact is that it can pose physical problems in seniors, too. Chronic stress decreases the health of the immune system, making it difficult for seniors to fight off illnesses and infections—this is concerning given the fact that this age group is already vulnerable to complications like pneumonia. Stress also causes body inflammation, which can increase the risk for chronic diseases such as cancers and heart disease.

Looking for Signs of Stress

Decreasing stress in your loved one’s life is essential to preventing its adverse health effects. The problem is that detecting stress in seniors isn’t always so clear-cut—in fact, your loved one may not even be able to recognize it. Be on the lookout for some of the most common signs of stress in seniors and call a doctor if your loved one:

  • Loses interest in everyday activities
  • Is extremely irritable
  • Becomes easily frustrated
  • Sleeps more than usual
  • Experiences unexplained body pain
  • Suddenly loses weight

There are many ways you can help a loved one manage their stress, but one of the easiest is to provide your support and encouragement. Stress in seniors often stems from fear; fear of losing their independence, their homes or their quality of life. By taking the time to talk to your loved one, you can pinpoint any fears and better provide solutions.

If you are interested in learning more about senior health, reach out to Home Care Assistance Vancouver today and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly Case Manager. Our highly trained and compassionate caregivers are available for hourly care in Vancouver, and can also provide overnight or 24 hour care if your loved one’s needs are more advanced. Call us today at 778-279-3634 – we look forward to hearing from you.

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