STRESS – THE WORST ENEMY OF THE ELDERLY. HOW TO DEAL WITH IT?

117

In common awareness, stress is the domain of young people – professionally active, chasing money, trying to reconcile their career with family life. Well, nothing could be more wrong! Stress may also apply to seniors, although of course it has a different basis. It is worth remembering that in terms of health, chronic stress is very dangerous for the elderly.

From the text you will learn:

  • which causes stress in seniors,
  • what the symptoms of stress may be in the elderly,
  • are there effective ways to deal with stress.

We live in times of worship of youth, strength and beauty. Therefore, seniors are often pushed to the margins of social life – there is no mention of aging and the accompanying problems. Older people feel worthless, helpless and forgotten. After a period of professional activity, when they retire and their children and grandchildren have left the family nest, seniors notice emptiness and loneliness around them.

Very often there are diseases typical of old age: hypertension, ischemic heart disease, diabetes   and osteoporosis. As the years go by, an elderly person may have increasing problems with moving and carrying out daily activities. Material issues are also a serious problem for seniors – low pensions are often not enough to meet basic needs, and the senior is dependent on the help of social care centers or families. All this deepens the feeling of alienation and alienation, increases dependence on the environment, deprives the joy of life and, consequently, is very destructive for the psyche of an elderly person and causes chronic stress .

Stress is not always negative

At the beginning, it is worth realizing that severe stress – as long as it is short-term and happens from time to time – is not so harmful to humans. It causes the physical and mental mobilization of the body and adds energy to action. In most cases, stress is associated with negative emotions, such as anger, regret, fear or tension, but it also happens that stress is associated with, for example, an important family celebration, a trip to an exotic country or meeting someone very close. Then it allows you to experience positive emotions: hope, joy, enthusiasm, and excitement.

Symptoms of stress in seniors

  • symptoms of physical stress – increased heart rate, sweating, cold feet and hands, pale or redness, nausea, trembling limbs, grinding of the teeth, lack of appetite, sleep disturbances,
  • – anxiety, fear, mood swings, hostility, indifference, worry, feeling of losing control over one’s own life, feeling of shame, frustration,
  • cognitive stress symptoms – problems with concentration, memory disorders, decrease in intellectual efficiency, problems with decision making, problems with focusing on the activity performed,
  • behavioral stress symptoms – smoking and alcohol consumption, nervous tics, nail biting, lack of appetite or its sudden attacks, speaking loudly and quickly, lack of attention to one’s appearance.

Long-term stress is one of the factors in the development of many diseases (including heart disease, hypertension, depression), and can also aggravate their symptoms.

Ways to relieve stress – relaxation techniques

  • Raise your eyebrows as high as possible, hold for 10 seconds, then slowly and slowly relax your face.
  • Squeeze your eyelids as tightly as possible for 10 seconds, then slowly open your eyes, focusing on your muscles.
  • Tilt your head back slightly, hold it for 10 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
  • Clench your fists tightly, count to 10, and then slowly relax your hands, allowing the tension to „drain” through your fingers.
  • Press your back against a chair back or wall for 10 seconds, then gradually release the pressure.

Combining the technique of visualization with the technique of conscious breathing will also help in combating stress. Sit in silence, imagine or remember something pleasant and focus on deep breathing for a few minutes – so that your body is fully oxygenated.

How to overcome stress?

Of course, there are many more ways to deal with stress and everyone can choose the one that is most effective for him. There are people for whom the best method of relaxation is a short nap, others prefer a walk in the fresh air or even more demanding activities – gardening, gymnastics for seniors or Nordic walking. There are older people who deal with stress alone, others seek support and companionship during this time. A good idea may be, for example, a short trip or a rehabilitation stay , which will not only help you improve your health, but also allow you to break away from everyday problems. You can and have to fight stress – it certainly works for good!