No matter your age, experiencing stress is inevitable. In fact, some stress is vital to our health and well-being. Stress serves as a warning system for our bodies, triggering the fight-or-flight response when we’re in harmful situations. Stress can help us accomplish tasks more efficiently and can even boost the immune system.
However, chronic stress is harmful to our health. It can cause and aggravate serious medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal illnesses. It leads to obesity and has been linked to mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
Older adults face a variety of stressors, including health problems, financial concerns, loneliness and isolation, loss and grief, and age-related changes. They also experience more major life changes, such as the death of a spouse, changes in relationships with their children, or moving to a new home or care facility.
April is National Stress Awareness Month. Stress can present itself in various ways, making it difficult for family members to recognize it as the underlying cause. If you are a caregiver to an aging parent or relative, here are four common signs your aging loved one is stressed.
Changes in Sleep Patterns
Difficulty sleeping or an increased need for naps can be a sign of stress in older adults. Chronic insomnia, or difficulty sleeping at least three nights per week for one month, can also be a sign of stress. If your aging loved one has experienced a noticeable change in their sleep pattern, and it’s not related to a new medication, it might mean they are experiencing heightened stress.
Uncharacteristic Mood Swings
Another common sign of senior stress is uncharacteristic mood swings. Older adults who are stressed may experience increased irritability, anxiety, or depression. They can become hostile or lash out, especially when the conversation mentions a stressor. If your loved one seems uncharacteristically moody or experiences drastic changes in their mood, it may indicate that they’re stressed.
Loss of Interest in Activities
Another common sign of stress in older adults is a loss of interest in activities. Older adults who are stressed often lack the motivation to engage in any sort of leisure pursuits. They also tend to isolate themselves from others and decline opportunities to socialize. If you’ve noticed that your loved one has become more withdrawn and has stopped engaging in their favorite hobbies, it could mean that they are stressed.
Physical and Cognitive Symptoms
Stress can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, and changes in appetite. Additionally, stressed older adults may experience memory problems, difficulty concentrating, or confusion. They can have difficulty making decisions or become more forgetful and disorganized. If your loved one is experiencing physical or cognitive symptoms that aren’t related to a preexisting condition, these symptoms might be related to stress.
Families should remember that everyone experiences stress differently. These four common signs of stress in older adults may vary from person to person. If you’re concerned about an older adult who may be experiencing heightened stress, encourage them to seek professional help from a doctor or therapist.
If your aging loved one continues to experience stress due to age-related changes, it might be time to get them the help they need in order to thrive in their golden years. Senior Living Solutions is here to help older adults and their families find the perfect solution for their situation. Our mission is to relieve stress and ease the burden of finding the best senior living options for our clients. We offer free placement assistance and other vital planning and moving services and can help guide you through every step of the process. Whether you’re exploring senior living options, such as assisted living, memory care, or independent living, or prefer in-home care for Mom or Dad, let us save you time and money and relieve the stress of such a decision. To learn more, please contact us today by calling 501-650-3013.