The idea of retirement usually conjures up images of sleeping late and spending carefree days reading, walking through the park, and visiting friends. However, just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you don’t have a thing to stress about.
Common stressful triggers for seniors include:
- Loss of spouse, family members, friends
- Decline in health
- Limited independence
- Dwindling finances
Your body reacts to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can be useful in helping you power through a short-lived stressor, like moving to a new home. However, if your body is constantly producing these hormones, they become harder to regulate. One adverse effect of this hormonal production includes damage to the parts of your brain that store and retrieve memories. More generally speaking, stress contributes to a multitude of conditions, like heart disease, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and dementia.
Stress doesn’t always present itself through the same symptoms across individuals. Some signs to look for in your loved one might include:
- Mood swings
- Increased anger/irritability
- Memory problems
- Lacking concentration
- Exhibiting poor judgment
- Changes in sleeping patterns or insomnia
- Social isolation
- Tension headaches
- Heart palpitations
- Weight loss or gain
Now that you’ve identified stress as the culprit, how do you help your senior reduce their stress levels? Some ideas include:
- Inject some fun into their routine (even something simple like watching a sitcom or a stand-up comedian)
- Revamp their diet (include plenty of water and/or herbal tea)
- Stimulate their mind (think Sudoku or crossword puzzles)
- Talk with a counselor
- Try yoga or meditation
- Strengthen their social circle
- Take up a new hobby
- Mix up the daily routine
Throughout our lives, our stress triggers become similar to a knee-jerk reaction. While it sounds oversimplified, your loved one may just need to retrain their brain to think differently. Over time, incorporating the above suggestions becomes second nature, and the reaction lessens each time.
Feel free to contact us if you would like assistance incorporating these ideas into your loved one’s daily routine. We’d be happy to help you.