Who hasn’t been stressed at certain points in their lives? Stress is a normal reaction to feeling overwhelmed, overworked or lonely. It’s not the end of the world to feel stressed every once in a while, but chronic stress can have long-term effects. This is especially true of the elderly, for whom stress can have serious health implications.
In honor of Stress Awareness Month (commemorated in April), we at Towne Home Care are focusing on stress awareness for the elderly. (Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten that stress is a common problem for caregivers as well. More on that later.)
Stress prevention is key in maintaining good health for older adults. Physical exercise is a great stress-reducer. Whether it’s a leisurely walk around the house, some movement exercises done while sitting in a chair or an invigorating session of physical therapy, getting the body moving manages and reduces stress.
Social interaction with friends and family is another way to prevent stress. Encourage older adults to keep busy with other people, so they don’t become lonely. If they are well enough to go out, a day care center which offers activities for the elderly can help keep loneliness at bay. If they are housebound, bring visitors in to see them, so they don’t spend all day staring at the walls.
Another way to avoid stress is with positive thinking. If an elderly person seems to be sunk in negative thoughts, try to uplift them with inspiring stories, a support group or a spiritual activity. Make sure they are surrounded with people who have optimistic outlooks and limit their time with gloomy friends.
In extreme cases, psychological support can be helpful in relieving stress and preventing anxiety.
Family and professional caregivers often report feeling stressed from the ongoing challenges of caring for an elderly person. Caregiver stress is best prevented and alleviated by taking care of yourself. That means exercise, social support and taking time to do the things you love.
Family caregivers need to set realistic goals of what they can and can’t provide for their loved one, and accept help for everything else. Make a list of what you are doing now and what you wish you were doing. Think about how getting help from other family members, friends and/or home care professionals can ensure your loved one gets all the care he needs, without draining you emotionally and physically.
How are you avoiding stress? Let us know in the comments below.