Stress and Anxiety: How Can It Affect Your Loved One?
In a fast-paced area such as New York, it can be hard to remember to slow down and manage your stress. The same can be said for your elderly loved one. If your loved one has recently experienced a life-altering event, such as moving into an assisted living care facility, they may be experiencing an increase in stress and anxiety. Even the sudden arrival of a caregiver into their home could signal a major transition in their life, sparking anxiety about their future and their independence.
Stress can have detrimental effects on your loved one’s health and well-being.
Even if your loved one insists they have dealt with stress plenty in their lifetime, they may not have ever experienced stress with the newfound challenges that come with aging. As young people, your loved one may have been able to cope with stress in a more healthy and productive way. As a senior citizen, they may find these same coping strategies ineffective or difficult to perform as they used to. One such instance of this is exercise.
As we age, we tend to become more sedentary over time. Intense physical exercise, while a great way to burn off some steam and manage stress, could now be nearly impossible for your loved one. Exercise provides many benefits, including improved brain function and an increase in energy. Because of this, it should be encouraged for your loved one to find a safe and reasonable way to engage in some sort of physical activity.
Some great exercises for those who still maintain independent mobility can include walking, water aerobics, swimming, low-intensity yoga, and moderate exercise with resistance bands.
For those who find themselves with limited mobility or confined to a wheelchair, some exercises they can try are: upper-body stretches and light upper-body focused resistance training with a dumbbell or resistance band.
Meditation can also be an effective way to relieve stress.
Meditation has become more popular in the Western world in recent years, as more and more individuals look for a holistic approach when it comes to their health. Meditation can be a very effective tool for your loved ones as it involves little physical movement and instead focuses on creating a connection to the breath, encouraging your loved one to breathe deeply and through their stressors. Meditation has been proven to reduce stress by encouraging the body to relax through a typical fight-or-flight feeling of anxiety.
The best way to help your loved ones start their journey into meditation is to encourage them to practice daily, making it a habit. By starting with shorter sessions of 3-5 minutes, and moving your way up to longer sessions, your loved one may find it easier to incorporate meditation into their daily life.
How can stress affect the body and mind of your loved one?
Although the occasional feeling of stress and anxiety is a part of life, it can become detrimental to your loved one’s health when it happens daily and your loved one seems unable to control their feelings of worry. Stress can lead to physical ailments such as high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, heartburn, indigestion, and more. While this can be alarming in itself, physical ailments are not the only consequences of chronic stress to worry about. Stress and anxiety can also lead to depression, insomnia, and mental instability in your loved one.
It is important to be aware of how stress can affect your aging loved one, and ways in which you can help them relieve their stress. By teaching your loved ones different ways in which they can reduce stress when they are alone, you are ensuring that they have the tools to improve their wellbeing even when you are not there to help.