Stress is a fact of life—at any age. It’s defined as a normal physical, mental or emotional response to demands encountered in life, especially change. Personal stress can result from any event or thought that makes you feel intense emotion.
Young adults encounter stress as they face the various demands of work and family. And older adults—perhaps more than any other group—must deal with increased stress brought on by not only change, but also loss.
The Carrington’s expertise in senior living, health and well-being, has led us to focus on older adults and how stress commonly impacts them.
Change and Loss as Contributors to Senior Stress
Since we mentioned change and loss as prevalent in the lives of seniors, we’ll clarify first what we mean. The National Institutes of Health says the following common losses increase stress for older adults:
- Retirement – a major stress factor involving both change and loss
- Dwindling finances – potentially living on a reduced income as one ages
- Psychosocial – loss of a spouse, friends/neighbors, the family home, work environment, social status, etc.
- Declining health – chronic illness, cognitive and functional disabilities
- Lost independence – assuming the role of caregiver to an ailing loved one, personal need for 24-hour care, etc.
- Separation and loneliness – from family and friends due to a multitude of reasons
Learning how to manage stress that comes with change and loss can help seniors avoid a chronic situation that can harm their overall health and well-being. The good news is that seniors are older and experienced—potentially, they’ve already lived through many different changes and losses in life and have developed a greater ability to rebound.
Senior Health: Recognizing and Getting a Handle on Stress
Everyone has stress and everyone reacts to it differently. The first step in managing personal stress is to accept that it’s natural and then understand how you react to it. Various experts—including the Mayo Clinic—have found that stress in older adults can cause symptoms such as:
- Change in appetite, upset stomach
- Chest pain
- Crying, irritability, edginess
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent headaches
- Muscle tension and pain
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? In addition, the American Psychological Association has developed a valuable resource that shows you how stress can affect all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous and reproductive systems. Don’t ignore any of these symptoms of stress. Being in a constant state of stress can lead to:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Ineffective vaccine results
- More frequent colds or flu
The Best Ways to Combat Stress
Just as there are many different triggers and symptoms of stress in older adults, there are many ways to manage the physical, mental or emotional responses you’re feeling. The Harvard Medical School suggests the following:
- Regular physical activity. Consult with your doctor on what activities might be best to help you improve balance, lift your mood, improve overall health and reduce stress.
- Join a support group. This is a feasible option especially if you’re dealing with bereavement.
- Think about getting a pet. Especially good if loneliness is causing your stress.
- Enroll in an interest group. Get out and be around people with like interests. A craft club. A movie or theatre group. A lecture series. A book club. Nature walkers. Volunteer opportunities.
And if you live at The Carrington . . . We’re sure our residents would tell you that the best ways they’re combatting stress this season are:
- Water Aerobics – Great for staying cool in the summer, too.
- Community Gardening – Time alone with nature! READ THESE RECENT BLOGS!
- A Multitude of Amenities – To satisfy everyone’s needs and ambitions.
The Carrington: Nothing to Lose—Everything to Gain
We’ve been talking about stress and its most common forms that plague older adults, including change and loss. Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you’re seriously thinking about a making major change to a healthier, more fulling lifestyle.
Community living—if it’s the right community—could very well be the solution you’re looking for. Consider The Carrington’s stress-free lifestyle. Meals provided. No interior or exterior home maintenance. Transportation to where you need it, and when. Activities and amenities. On-site health services.
Eliminate your current stress caused by worry and wonder about seeking senior living. We’ll be with you every step of the way to help you:
- Get started so you know what to look for and what questions to ask
- Understand and eliminate your financial concerns
- Assess any assisted living or long-term care needs
- Coordinate downsizing and selling your current home
- Move with ease to your new community
- Find a new circle of friends and rewarding activities
The Carrington will be an extension of your current way of life, made a little easier and a lot less stressful! Contact us today!