Retirement is usually thought of as a time to unwind and finally relax after so many years of hard work. However, the aging process can sometimes cause stress in seniors. This is especially true if your loved one is dealing with health issues, or if they are finding it difficult to fill their days with interesting and meaningful activities. Here are some suggestions for recognizing, treating, and decreasing stress.
When an individual experiences stress, a chemical called cortisol is released. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that serves to regulate and moderate any reactions that occur in the body as a result of stress. Cortisol can cause harm to the hippocampus, which is a region in the brain responsible for memory. A spike in cortisol production and other stress hormones in the body can lead to other health complications, such as:
- Weakened immune system
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
The body’s ability to regulate hormones decreases, so feelings of stress can be very harmful to the elderly.
This is where identifying and getting stress properly diagnosed becomes difficult. Signs of stress are not overly apparent, as it doesn’t really come with any noticeable symptoms. What you can look for however are changes in one’s health or behaviours, such as:
- Lack of sleep
- Loss of appetite
- More susceptible to other ailments
- Mood swings
- Lack of interest in favorite activities
These symptoms can be a result of stress, or could also be signs of the onset of depression. Either way, it is a good idea to consult a health care professional at this point for an official diagnosis.
A great stress reducer is social interaction. Spending time with family members and friends on a regular basis creates positive feelings of self-worth and boosts self-esteem. Other options are taking part in social groups in the community. There are a variety of activities available to match your loved one’s interests.
Physical and Mental Activity
Regular exercise is a fantastic and healthy way to ward off stress. Finding a physical activity you can enjoy on a routine basis is a good start. Even if it is just getting out for a daily walk and enjoying the fresh air, it can make a big difference.
It is also important to maintain a healthy level of mental activity. You can get mental stimulation from social interactions, but sometime others are not available so you have to improvise. Mental activity can come in the form of reading a book, doing a crossword, or other puzzles.
You can also try these relaxation techniques to reduce stress.
Our caregivers at Retire-At-Home Toronto can help present options to choose appropriate activities. We can also provide companionship and guidance while carrying out these activities.