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Common Signs and Causes of Stress in Seniors
Many consider post-retirement as a blissful time. After all, retirement offers more time to enjoy your grandchildren and the activities you love without worrying about work. But it may surprise you that, according to Statista, in January 2021, around 28% of adults aged 50-80 felt depressed or hopeless for several days or more within the past two weeks, and 44% reported feeling stressed. Knowing the common signs and causes of stress in seniors can help you recognize when your loved one may need support.
Causes of Stress
Stress is a natural part of life—and it occurs during every stage. But different stressors are common for each age bracket. For example, teenagers may experience stress related to school, finding a job, personal relationships, and juggling responsibilities. People in their mid-20s to 30s may experience stress over buying a house, advancing in their careers, and starting/raising a family. For seniors, common stressors include:
- Loss of independence – After being self-sufficient for years, seniors often find themselves unable to perform daily tasks like grocery shopping or house cleaning.
- Financial security – Sometimes, seniors retire not because they’re financially stable, but because they can’t work anymore. They may worry about their financial security without a consistent income.
- Losing loved ones – Unfortunately, most seniors start to lose loved ones due to old age. Losing a friend, sibling, cousin, or spouse can cause depression and stress in seniors.
- Health – Aging increases the risk of chronic diseases like dementia, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Having these conditions—or worrying you will get them—can significantly stress seniors. And as you age, you’re more likely to experience several health conditions simultaneously.
Signs of Stress
Recognizing the signs of stress in seniors is important so you know when to offer help. If you don’t see your loved one often, it’s vital to ask questions and take notice of the signs of stress, including:
- Loss or change of appetite
- Changes in mood (irritability, anxiousness, sadness, or indifference)
- Inability to concentrate
- Problems with short-term memory
- Constant worrying
- Loneliness and/or isolation
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Poor judgment
- Decreased attention to personal hygiene and grooming
- Weight gain or loss
- Low energy or fatigue
- Increased aches and pains
- Difficulty sleeping
How to Help
Part of aging well includes being happy and healthy, which means limiting stress to a minimum. Luckily, there is a multitude of stress-relieving fixes out there. Here are a few ways to help your loved one minimize their stress:
- Take walks.
- Visit them often.
- If you cannot visit, call or video chat with them often.
- Introduce them to mindfulness and meditation.
- Make sure they’re eating healthily.
- Suggest trying new activities, such as painting or joining a book club.
- Encourage them to join a support group if they are dealing with bereavement.
- Help them create a financial plan and budget.
- Consider getting them a pet.