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Understanding Stress in Seniors & Older Adults

Many people view retirement as a relaxing and carefree stage of life. While some seniors are able to take the time after retirement to travel, engage in favourite hobbies and meet with friends around town, others are not as fortunate and experience extreme stress.

Stress is something that everyone will experience at one time or another, but seniors are often more prone to stress due to age-related factors. For example, seniors may have the any or a combination of the following factors contributing to their stress:

  • Financial worries due to living off a retirement fund.
  • Fear of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • A lack of clear sense, purpose or value as a member of society.
  • The inability to be independent like they were before.
  • Problems thinking or doing things that they could at a younger age.
  • Losing friends and relatives due to death.
  • Social isolation due to medical problems.

Stress & Senior Health

If these stressors are left unchecked, they can develop into more serious problems that can impact a senior’s physical and emotional health, and overall quality of life. Stress can cause or make the following conditions worse in older individuals:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • High blood pressure
  • Acid reflux and heartburn
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Alzheimer’s and certain forms of dementia
  • Vertigo
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Auto-immune conditions

Seniors may also engage in behaviuor detrimental to their health, such as consuming excessive alcohol and smoking, in attempt to relieve some of the stress they feel.

How You Can Help

If you notice that your aging parent or loved one seems stressed or withdrawn, it’s important to take the time to speak with them about how they might be feeling. Acknowledging their feelings and showing support is a great first step in helping to alleviate stress for your loved one and can also begin a conversation about serious issues such as financial planning or the possible need for long-term care.

Another option to help alleviate stress is in-home care. For seniors, stress often arises as the result of fear; fear of health conditions, or losing one’s independence or home. When an in-home caregiver is able to support a senior, either on a part-time or live-in basis, the senior is able to maintain as much of his or her independence and regular routine as possible. Doing so can contribute greatly to a higher sense of worth and self, while minimizing stress.

To learn more about Home Care Assistance of Toronto and our care services, visit our website at www.torontohomecareassistance.com or call a friendly Care Manager at 416-488-8777 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.