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The Impact of Stress on Aging

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Throughout life, people are bound to experience stressful situations from time to time. Stress affects people emotionally and physically. Often the stress is short-lived. However, some people live with chronic stress. As adults age, stress becomes increasingly taxing on the body. Here are a few ways stress may impact aging.

Contributes to Physical Health Conditions

Chronic stress exposes the body to a constant barrage of cortisol, adrenaline, and other harmful substances that take a toll on various physiological systems. Seniors may develop heart problems or high blood pressure. The immune system weakens, which makes older adults more susceptible to illness and compounds the stress on the body. Older adults living with chronic stress are known to have elevated levels of Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a compound that indicates inflammation. IL-6 levels may rise four times higher than normal. Chronic inflammation is associated with several disease processes secondary to cell damage. Physical activity may become too demanding, and the body isn’t as adaptable to temperature changes. Wounds take longer to heal, and the body requires more time to recover from illness.

Older adults may encounter multiple physical and mental health challenges as they enter their golden years. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional elder care. Clearwater, FL, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Affects the Brain

Under normal circumstances, the brain regulates stress and other hormones. However, as adults become older, the brain slowly loses its capacity to protect the body. This issue explains why seniors often feel more anxious or worried. An article published in an issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology reveals that cortisol levels rise up to three times higher in older women compared to men. Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, performed a study to evaluate stress in older adults. They found that when exposed to high levels of cortisol over many years, the hippocampus may experience damage. This region of the brain is vital for creating, storing, and retrieving memories. Chronic stress may also be responsible for the onset of Alzheimer’s. Researchers published an article in Neurology explaining a five-year study involving approximately 800 nuns and priests. The volunteers who reported experiencing more stress during their lives had double the risk of developing cognitive disorders.

Progressive cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s can slowly suppress the ability to carry out even the simplest tasks. Without the right assistance, Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors and their families to manage. If you’re looking for professional Alzheimer’s home care, Clearwater Home Care Assistance provides high-quality care aging adults and their families can count on. All of our hourly and live-in caregivers are trained to help seniors with Alzheimer’s live happier and healthier lives, and we also provide specialized dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Speeds Up the Aging Process

Scientists published an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences following a study on stress. They found that stress speeds up the aging process and has a direct effect on the immune system. The researchers analyzed the telomeres of volunteers, which are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres become shorter. Once the telomeres become a certain length, the cell can no longer divide. The body produces an enzyme known as telomerase that protects the coverings. However, during the natural aging process, telomerase production gradually decreases. The biological effect is one of the leading underlying causes of aging. The study involved monitoring the stress levels and telomeres of 58 otherwise healthy older women. The researchers found that prolonged stress caused the immune system to age by a decade. Further studies may reveal why stress hormones affect cells in this way.

Seniors may find it challenging to combat stress and remain healthy as they age. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of senior home care. Clearwater Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services. If you have any questions about the excellent senior home care we provide, reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (727) 330-7862.