National Stress Awareness Month is observed in April and stress in adults, children and older adults can have many causes.
Some common causes of stress in seniors is managing chronic illness, losing a spouse, being a caregiver, and adjusting to changes caused by finances, retirement, or separation from friends and family, according to Harvard Health Publishing, a publication of Harvard Medical School.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do for stress relief.
Common symptoms of stress according to Harvard Health Publishing include:
– tension headaches
– back pain
– heart palpitations
– poor concentration
Stress can contribute to many health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, according to Dr. Samer Blackmon of Piedmont Physicians White Oak.
“Stress can affect our body, our thoughts and feelings, as well as our behavior,” Blackmon said. “The most common effects of stress are muscle tension that leads to pain, headaches, fatigue and sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and a feeling of being overwhelmed. In general, stress leads us to not take proper care of ourselves – including eating a poor diet, a lack of exercise, and a lack of sleep.”
Although stress happens, there is hope to cope with stress and its side effects, and family and friends can play a role in the process.
“As we get older, we can feel more isolated,” Blackmon said. “For seniors especially, it is important to have a strong support network and sense of community. It is also important to not bite off more than you can chew and live a more balanced life to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Take time for self-care, have fun and enjoy life. It is also important to exercise regularly, eat a healthy, balanced diet and get adequate sleep.”
Blackmon said seniors are not at more risk for stress than the average person.
“However, they may worry more about their loved ones and families, and feel like they don’t have the ability to help,” she said. “This generation is incredible – they have experienced a lot in life, faced more obstacles and have a big picture perspective.”