Stress is a common factor in life. Children experience stress from school, new social situations and simply growing up. Adults feel the stress of working, paying bills, raising kids and maintaining households. Seniors also feel stress, even though some may have retired, raised their children and paid off their homes. Certain amounts of stress are a part of life for people of all ages.
For seniors, stress has the potential to be especially overwhelming. This type of tension in older adults has unique contributing factors, such as the loss of an elderly spouse or friends. Living alone can increase the sense of isolation. Sometimes the simple tasks of everyday life can cause stress in those who experience physical or medical limitations. The effects of stress can sometimes exacerbate health conditions from which some seniors suffer, causing additional worry.
Stress can present itself in various ways:
- Changes in eating habits, such as over-eating or loss of appetite, can be caused by overwhelming stress.
- Mood swings due to stress may present in increased irritability, general sadness or depression.
- Memory issues may arise in the form of increased forgetfulness of names, places or other things that normally come naturally. Lack of concentration may become a problem. Some seniors may exercise poor judgment, such as excessive spending when they are already on a limited budget.
- Physical signs of stress can include body aches and pains or increased episodes of illness. Changes in sleeping patterns — either trouble falling asleep or interrupted nighttime sleep — can signal significant stress.
- Seniors experiencing overwhelming stress often isolate themselves from others, refusing to socialize or participate in activities they used to enjoy