Visions of retirement can include long, lazy days spent doing favorite activities or simply lounging around the house enjoying the peace and quiet. But aging can offer a different scenario as countless changes take place seemingly one after another. Your parent’s health may be faltering, one of their senses may be diminishing, or their home environment may have experienced changes that leave it quieter than they anticipated. Change can often be stressful and dealing with the avalanche of changes, overwhelming.
Effect of Stress
Stress, left unmanaged, can contribute to several diseases. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Stress in small doses can actually be good for people. It gets you out of harms way and makes you react in situations that require immediate action. It is the constant chronic stress that can play havoc on the physical body. According to an article in Psychology Today, cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, “interferes with learning and memory, lowers immune function and bone density, increases weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease.”
Signs that Stress may be Taking its Toll
As a family caregiver, it’s important to know the signs that may elude to stress taking its toll on your parent. Taking action to help them alleviate it is important for both their health and their overall well-being.
A change in eating or sleeping habits. These can range from either too much to too little.
Increasing irritability and apathy.
A diminished immune system suggested by coming down with frequent colds and other viruses.
Increasing isolation and decreasing desire to socialize.
Help your loved one overcome the negative effects of stress by incorporating some anti-stress activities in to their life. This may include taking a tai chi class, a gentle form of Chinese martial arts that is good for balance and strength as well as mindful awareness that decreases stress. Due to its growing popularity, it is often offered at local senior community centers and the YMCA.
Other activities include walking, swimming, volunteering for an organization, wandering through botanical gardens or museums—activities that bring your parent joy in a relaxed atmosphere. Making a lavender sea salt infused bath a nightly ritual is another good stress reducer as well as listening to relaxation recordings—many of which can be found on YouTube.
Home Care Provider
A home care provider can help your loved one with the everyday activities of living as well as provide the companionship that distracts someone from what ails them. They can accompany them on walks and social outings and help them see the benefit of taking time out and bringing peace and joy in. If your loved one needs some support in life, consider obtaining the services of a home care provider.