Stress is a common problem faced by people of all ages, but stress in seniors, given their extensive life experience and wisdom, we may forget that there are still many challenges elderly people face in their lives.
Major changes, from relocation to loss of a spouse, can all create significant stress and mental health issues in a senior’s life.
Research dating back to 2013 reveals that depression and anxiety were on the rise among America’s aging population. In 2021, most studies looked into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on senior mental health.
What’s interesting to note is that while most adults over 50 will say their mental health is good, when asked about specific emotions, many reveal they struggle with anxiety and depression.
Just one in eight U.S. seniors have sought a mental health professional in the last year, which means there are millions still struggling each day without any intervention.
Reflections Management and Care believes that total-body wellness requires empathy, understanding and personalization. These are a few of our favorite stress management tips that seniors and caretakers can adapt to fit their own lives.
When it comes to stress relief, laughter really is one of the best medicines. Laughter lowers and regulates the presence of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. In turn, this can reduce inflammation throughout the body and help reduce the effects of stress in seniors.
No matter what someone’s age is, everyone deserves to feel light-hearted and have fun each day. Far too many adults fall into a routine that is virtually devoid of humor and bemusement. This is why celebrating humor and levity are always top priority among our senior care experts.
In addition to lowering stress, laughter is also linked to connection. When we share a funny moment with someone else, we feel closer to them. Many seniors struggle to feel included in the world, but laughter helps bring a sense of togetherness and ease loneliness.
Fitness levels change as people get older, but the need for exercise remains the same. Studies show that the older someone gets, the less active they become, but unfortunately, reduced physical activity leads to less stamina and physical strength.
Limited mobility is also tied to depression and anxiety among seniors, which can both cause and worsen the effects of stress in seniors for the mind and body. Regular exercise strengthens bones, joints, and muscles, builds strong bones, and helps seniors maintain a healthy weight.
In studies shared by the National Institute on Aging, researchers found that exercise helped boost seniors’ cognitive performance. Regular exercise also increases glucose metabolism, which can lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Social support is important for everyone, especially seniors who live alone or have become more isolated in old age. While family and friends can provide good company, seniors should also have places to interact with their peers.
Community centers, senior MeetUp groups and even senior daycare centers offer safe, engaging opportunities for your elderly loved one to make new connections with people their own age.
In addition to helping them feel more included, social connection may help prevent depression and physical health problems, such as high blood pressure. For many elderly people, isolation can occur as adult children tend to their own families, friends relocate or pass away and they live entirely alone.
While they may love being independent, seniors still need routine connection and companionship to feel their best.
Personal hobbies, like knitting, cooking, and crafting, all help lower stress in seniors and improve mental health. Seniors who are struggling with their mental health may stop doing activities they once found enjoyable.
Unfortunately, this withdrawal has a cyclic effect that only makes them feel more depressed and unmotivated.
The less they do, the less they want to do, which is why depression and chronic stress are so closely intertwined.
If you struggle to make time to engage your elderly loved one, a home aid could step in and bring much-needed encouragement into their lives. Home care services can help seniors keep a healthy routine while still allowing them to live independently.
Talk to a Counselor
Senior counseling can help the elderly feel heard, understood and validated. Our senior counseling specialists are trained to work with seniors and understand the unique challenges and stressors they face.
When it comes to choosing a mental health provider, it’s best to opt for specialists who understand the unique needs of older adults. Many just need someone to listen and not dismiss their emotions as “grouchiness” or “the blues.”
We provide senior counseling for seniors living at home, in nursing homes and assisted care facilities to improve quality of life and promote greater peace and fulfillment.
Get Help Lowering Stress in Seniors
If you’re concerned about a loved one’s mental health, we are here to help in any way we can. Please contact Reflections Management and Care to speak with one of our leading senior healthcare professionals.