Stress Management Tips for Seniors
As we get older and wiser, we’d like to think there’s less to worry about. Unfortunately, stress doesn’t go away with age. In fact, there are many sources of stress that are unique to old age. The most common sources are the loss of independence, figuring out finances, and health problems. As we all know, stress at any age affects our mental and physical health. The long term effects of stress in old age can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Here are some ideas to help older adults manage their stress.
Get some laughs
When your loved one’s feeling worried, try a little humor. Watch a sitcom or a funny movie. Recall a favorite silly event and talk about it. Even telling jokes can help lighten the mood. For a few good laughs, Reader’s Digest has a website with hundreds of readers’ favorite jokes.
Play with a furry friend
Give your senior parent some cuddle time with a friendly animal. Studies show interacting with a cat or dog lowers blood pressure levels, among many other benefits. Enlivant communities are pet friendly so visitors and residents can bring them.
Take deep breaths
Making an effort to sit, relax and take a few deep breaths every day is a great way for older adults to cope with stress. If your loved one’s interested, try meditation. There are online apps like Headspace that make learning the techniques of meditation easy.
Research shows any form of exercise enhances health and quality of life for seniors. Yoga, in particular, is associated with stress relief. In addition, yoga improves flexibility and balance, so it’s a great exercise for seniors. Here are some simple poses you and your senior loved one can do together.
Jot it down
Sometimes the best thing to do for stress is to get what’s bothering you off your chest. The act of writing down your feelings can put things into perspective and even inspire a solution. Give your loved one a journal to write down their thoughts. They can also try a gratitude exercise: writing down something they’re thankful for every day.
Listen to music
Music is a very effective tool for relieving senior stress. Seniors who listen to music are more relaxed and less anxious. Music also offers many other health benefits to seniors, including memory improvement.
With April being Stress Awareness Month, keep these stress management tips in mind. Put one or more into use if you sense your loved ones are worried about something. If you feel they’re frequently anxious or their stress levels are affecting their health, e.g. sleep disruption, heart palpitations, indigestion or irritability, they should see their doctor. Stress in older adults may surround some unique circumstances, but as with stress in any age group, there are resources and techniques to help manage it.