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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Five Signs of Senior Stress

Stress is a common factor in life. Children experience stress from school, new social situations and simply growing up. Adults feel the stress of working, paying bills, raising kids and maintaining households. Seniors also feel stress, even though some may have retired, raised their children and paid off their homes. Certain amounts of stress are a part of life for people of all ages.

Five Signs of Senior Stress

For seniors, stress has the potential to be especially overwhelming. This type of tension in older adults has unique contributing factors, such as the loss of an elderly spouse or friends. Living alone can increase the sense of isolation. Sometimes the simple tasks of everyday life can cause stress in those who experience physical or medical limitations. The effects of stress can sometimes exacerbate health conditions from which some seniors suffer, causing additional worry.

Stress can present itself in various ways. Here are five of the most common ways to detect if a loved one's stress is cause for concern:

  1. Changes in eating habits, such as over-eating or loss of appetite, can be caused by overwhelming stress.
  2. Mood swings due to stress may present in increased irritability, general sadness or depression.
  3. Memory issues may arise in the form of increased forgetfulness of names, places or other things that normally come naturally. Lack of concentration may become a problem. Some seniors may exercise poor judgment, such as excessive spending when they are already on a limited budget.
  4. Physical signs of stress can include body aches and pains or increased episodes of illness. Changes in sleeping patterns -- either trouble falling asleep or interrupted nighttime sleep -- can signal significant stress.
  5. Seniors experiencing overwhelming stress often isolate themselves from others, refusing to socialize or participate in activities they used to enjoy.

Family caregivers of seniors should be cognizant of stress as it relates to their loved ones. Knowing the signs and detecting them early on can help seniors learn to recognize stress factors and to take steps to alleviate the effects stress can cause. Activities such as yoga, walking and other physical exercises designed for seniors are great tension relievers. Many seniors enjoy the benefits of tai chi classes geared to their physical abilities. The Mayo Clinic supports this gentle form of martial arts as a way to relieve stress and help other health-related conditions.

Some seniors are unable to participate in physical activities, but there are other ways to reduce stress. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and getting a good night's sleep can keep stress at bay. Joining a non-physical group activity, such as a bridge club or volunteering, offers socialization and a chance to clear the mind of daily responsibilities. There are also local agencies that can help with tasks that might cause undue stress for seniors. Respite care organizations can help with housework or grocery shopping. Religious organizations often have groups who can assist seniors with yard work or other strenuous tasks around the home.

The fact that stress is a part of life does not mean that overwhelming stress is a burden seniors have to shoulder all alone. With help, seniors can combat stress and its negative effects. Spend time helping seniors determine what burdens they face. Help them plan ways suited to their lifestyles that are not only fun but that can minimize the pressures stress can cause. By doing so, the quality of life seniors experience can increase, further paving the way for them to lead independent lives within the comfort of their own homes.

Love to Know Senior Citizens. Stress and seniors. Retrieved on March 9, 2012, from

Mayo Clinic (2009). Tai chi: Discover the many possible health benefits. Retrieved on March 9, 2012, from

Butler, Alia (2013). Stress, Anxiety & Coping. Retrieved on August 23, 2013, from

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  • Anxiety & Stress