5 Effects Stress Can Have on Seniors

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Stress is a natural response to dangerous events or threats. Stress triggers what’s known as the fight-or-flight response, which prepares people to face danger or flee from it. When an individual faces danger, stress hormones cause the muscles to tighten and the body to release more fat and sugar for energy. Chronic stress can lead to serious illness. Consider these five ways stress affects elderly people. 

1. Increases the Risk of Heart Disease

High blood pressure caused by stress can put a burden on the heart. The increased blood volume weakens the vessels and makes the heart work harder to pump blood. Stress is a risk factor for heart disease, and in some cases, acute stress can lead to sudden heart attacks. 

Stress is one of many factors that can contribute to decreased mental and physical health in seniors. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of homecare services. Reston families can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and we offer mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

2. Exacerbates Diabetes

When aging adults have a difficult time managing their blood sugar, stress may be a factor. Stress brought about by chronic pain or other issues can cause blood sugar to spike and be difficult to control. Even when an individual takes insulin or oral diabetes medication as prescribed, stress can cause blood sugar to remain high. Chronically high blood sugar can cause diabetes complications such as neuropathy, impaired vision, and kidney damage. 

3. Leads to Weight Gain

Elderly people who eat in response to stress sometimes choose foods high in fat and sugar. The phrase “comfort food” is often used to describe foods individuals consume when they engage in emotional eating. A sedentary lifestyle coupled with emotional eating can lead to weight gain. Being overweight is a risk factor for diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions. 

Seniors who don’t manage their stress levels well could develop serious illnesses, making it a challenge to care for themselves on their own. If your senior loved one needs around-the-clock assistance at home, the Reston, VA, in-home care professionals at Assisting Hands Home Care are here to help. We promote longevity by encouraging seniors to focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental engagement, and other important lifestyle factors.

4. Causes Anxiety & Depression

Worries about health, finances, and other problems can trigger stress in seniors. Stress from worry can cause aging adults to feel anxious. The isolation that often comes with living alone means some elderly individuals may have few people to talk with about their concerns, which can lead to depression. 

5. Speeds Up Aging & Age-Related Illnesses

Health issues brought on by stress, including cardiovascular disease, are often seen in seniors with Alzheimer’s. Research has suggested stress causes inflammation in the brain, which can make the organ vulnerable to dementia. Depression, which can be caused by stress, is another risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Stress also affects the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off viruses and infections.

Stress can result in mental, emotional, and physical challenges for aging adults, but seniors don’t have to handle them alone. Home care Reston agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. Our caregivers encourage seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. If your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at 703-556-8983.