April is stress awareness month. Stress management for seniors, however, should be a year-long endeavor. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in four older adults reported feeling some level of stress or anxiety, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, managing stress doesn’t always require taking a pill or seeing a doctor. There are ways of keeping stress under check with a few easy methods anyone can do at home.
Why Stress Management Matters for Seniors
Stress has been linked to a number of ailments, such as influenza, dementia, gastric ulcers, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Your immune system becomes less resilient as you get older. As we age, our ability to fight off illness, infections, and inflammation declines. Stress in senior citizens, therefore, is more likely to lead to ailments that can have a negative long-term impact.
Ways to Manage Stress in Older Adults
Here are some methods to keep stress at bay.
Read Inspirational Material
Make a habit of reading on a daily basis. This can be something as short as an inspirational quote. However, consider taking it further and reading full-length books. This can be fiction, non-fiction, self-help, or an autobiography. Whatever the genre, it should have a positive message. Chicken Soup for the Soul is a good example of a book series with love, courage, and hope stories.
Learn a New Skill
Learning and investing in a new skill gives your life meaning and purpose. Plus, you’re never too old to learn something new. Good skills that are useful to learn include:
- A new language
- Cooking an unfamiliar dish
- Photo/video editing
Whatever you learn, it should be something you have a genuine interest in. Go at your own pace. According to a Harvard Business Review article, learning a new skill is an effective stress management tool.
Write in a Journal
Write daily in a journal. What should you write about? Whatever you want. You can write about your life as a retiree, a hobby, or the things you’re grateful for. You may share your entries with others or keep them completely private. Whatever is on your mind, putting it on paper is a great way to offset stress. Writing is like reading; both are exercises for the brain. Try journaling for at least 15 minutes per day.
Interact More with Your Pet
Why do therapy pets exist? It’s because interacting with animals is a proven way to relieve stress. Companion animals also provide many physical, mental, and social benefits to seniors. If you already have a pet, spend more time petting and holding it. You can even talk to it. It also doesn’t have to be a dog or cat. Smaller pets like a guinea pig or hamster make good therapy pets as well. Having an animal in the home can make you feel less isolated, especially if you live alone.
Get Some Exercise
If you spend the bulk of your day indoors, go outside and get some exercise. This can be as simple as a brisk walk. Physical movement is a proven stress reliever, even if it's low-impact movement we do every day. Research from North Dakota State University reveals walking can be an effective stress reliever. This is due to the movement releasing endorphins that stimulate relaxation. For maximum stress relief, find a partner or two to walk with.
Receive Home Care Assistance at Home Instead
Stress is a normal part of life. It doesn’t go away just because you’re older. Do you require home care assistance or have an elderly loved one that requires care? Contact Home Instead for your in-home care needs in Lafayette, LA. A live caretaker not only provides daily assistance but also companionship, which can elevate the quality of daily living of older adults.