Stress and anxiety often go hand in hand and people of all ages usually experience them together. Both of them are unpleasant experiences that make life pessimistic. Yet, it is important to understand the difference between them to figure out better ways of dealing with each and reverting back to a healthier and calmer lifestyle.
Stress is a ‘fight or flight’ response of the human body as a reaction to an external stimulus. It disturbs our mental or physical equilibrium. Stress acts as a retort mechanism adopted by the body when the mind is threatened. It may be expressed in the form of anger, concern, worry or overwhelming. Chronic stress in seniors can lead to multiple complications including high blood pressure, chest pain, palpitations, depression and insomnia. Stress also causes anxiety.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental ailments that affect seniors. It is essentially a feeling of apprehension that occupies the mind. Anxiety can be triggered by daily life situations. Common causes of anxiety in seniors include:
- Acceptance of mortality
- Physical ailments
- Decreased mobility
- Increased dependence on caretakers
- Chronic diseases
- Sleeping disturbances
- Side-Effects of Medication
It may be difficult to diagnose anxiety in elders because it mostly manifests itself via physical symptoms. However, it is important to rule out the existence of body abnormalities by seeking medical help. It is also crucial to deal cautiously as seniors lived in an atmosphere where anxiety and related mental problems were treated as ‘societal-stigmas’.
Let us discuss how to deal with problems of stress and anxiety.
Stress Relief Techniques
- Mindfulness – This technique helps in quietening the busy mind and increases awareness of the present situation through meditation.
- Exercise – Apart from improving physical health, exercising has a distinct impact on brain health by enhancing cognitive skills.
- Therapy – Various forms of body manipulation therapies like yoga and massaging along with exercises maintains a state of mindfulness. It also helps elders to remain independent.
- Relationships – Fostering healthy and community relationships build seamless human bonding over the course of life.
- Nutritious Food – Healthy and balanced diet with adequate nutritional density and less sugar help in maintaining a healthy mind and body.
Top 5 Ways to Relieve Anxiety in Seniors
- Social Support – Limited mobility and diminished social circle creates loneliness and isolation in seniors. This can be overcome by creating a circle of social support through relatives, family members, voluntary associations or community centre for companionship.
- Exercises for anxiety –Calming techniques including breathing exercises, numbering games, listening to music and physical activity like walking and water aerobics provides immediate relief to anxiety.
- Reassuring routines: Seniors, particularly those suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, experience forgetfulness leading to panic and anxiety. Nursing Care for Seniors should ensure steady and consistent routines for such patients to maintain calmness and predictability.
- Reduction in Bed-Time Stress: Many seniors have trouble in falling asleep at night. They have worries and concerns about limited chances of procuring help at late hours in emergencies. Speaking in person or making scheduled phone calls to seniors before bedtime for checking in their safety can evade anxiety. Senior Home Health Care can also be a good option. These care services send qualified caregivers or nurses for clinical monitoring in night schedules which can help elders rest peacefully and stay safe.
- Elderly Medical Counselling: It is appropriate to seek medical or psychological help for tackling higher anxiety levels if above methods fail to yield satisfactory results. Anti-anxiety medications and psychotherapy can be administered to seniors under medical supervision for better outcomes.
Yes, seniors can lead a care-free life devoid of stress and anxiety with family support, medical consultation and reliable routines!