For seniors, the spike in stress-related chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol triggered by added stress and anxiety can be especially dangerous, because such a hormonal imbalance can contribute to high blood pressure, rapid breathing, and other health issues. Today, we’re going to focus on five of the more specific ways stress can affect seniors and what can be done to minimize this problem if you’re caring for an older loved one.
1. Reduced Immune System Functions
Older adults already have age-related immune system issues, so adding extra stress to the mix can make it difficult to manage health-related problems because of additional immune system suppression. Your loved one may be able to manage stress better without significantly affecting his or her immune system by:
• Eating a balanced, healthy diet
• Getting sufficient sleep
• Exercising on a regular basis
• Enjoying gut-friendly dairy products since 80 percent of the immune system is located within the digestive system
Maintaining a healthy immune system is just one of the many potential challenges that can arise in the golden years. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior care. Clearwater families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
2. Heart-Related Problems
Stress can produce excessive amounts of adrenaline, a hormone that can elevate blood pressure and, in turn, raise the heart rate if there’s too much of it. In some instances, seniors turn to unhealthy activities like excessive drinking or overeating to manage stress, which can further contribute to heart-related problems. In addition to exercise, stress-related problems in seniors may become more manageable by:
• Developing healthy management techniques
• Exploring healthy, stress-relieving hobbies like making art/craft items, playing golf, or enjoying another favorite activity
• Learning relaxation techniques such as meditation
3. Hearing and Vision Issues
Too much adrenaline constricts blood vessels, which affects tissues in the ears and eyes. The good news is this effect is temporary and usually goes away once adrenaline levels return to a normal level, which is why it’s important to be observant and spot signs your loved one may have issues with excessive stress. Doing so also means efforts can be made to address this problem before hearing and vision are affected.
If your loved one is living with vision or hearing impairment, managing daily tasks may prove to be difficult. However, an in-home caregiver can help. Families shouldn’t have to worry about finding reliable homecare. Home Care Assistance is a leading provider of elderly home care. We offer a proprietary program called the Balanced Care Method, which uses holistic methods to promote senior health, our caregivers and Care Managers are available 24/7, and all of our in-home care services are backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
4. Digestive Concerns
Digestive problems are linked to stress because being too anxious or stressed can alter the way the nervous system sends signals to digestive muscles. If this happens, your loved one may develop issues with bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, or stomach ulcers. You may be able to help your loved one reduce this type of stress by:
• Identifying the likely stress triggers
• Talking to the doctor about medication that may help
• Looking for things that have changed that may be causing your loved one stress—e.g., reduced lack of mobility or not having as many opportunities to socialize
5. Dental Issues
Nervously clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth because of stress may indicate issues with misalignment or jaw pain. If it’s believed your loved one’s dental issues are related, in part, to stress, take the time to find out what’s causing the anxiety. For example, if it’s a loss of socialization, encourage your loved one to volunteer or become involved with the local senior/community center. Even arranging for in-home care primarily for companionship purposes when you’re not available could reduce your loved one’s stress level.
Stress can affect family caregivers as well, leading to burnout. Family caregivers need to care for their own wellbeing. If you’re caring for an aging loved one and are feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring a professional caregiver to provide respite care. Clearwater, FL, families who want to prevent burnout can turn to Home Care Assistance. One of our professional caregivers can assist your loved one at home while you take a nap, go to work, run errands, or go on vacation. Call (727) 330-7862 today to speak with one of our trusted Care Managers and learn how we can help both you and your loved one maintain a high quality of life.