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Identifying Stress in a Senior Loved One

By Melissa Hill, 8:00 am on

Senior adults experience many stressful events as they age such as the loss of loved ones, new health conditions and feelings of isolation that can become overwhelming. Yet, many seniors may hesitate to discuss their emotional struggles out of the fear of worrying their loved ones, and some may not realize the effects that stress is having on their mental and physical health. Therefore, it is important to know the signs of stress that a senior may demonstrate so that a plan can be created to help them find positive coping strategies.

Changes in Eating Habits

During stressful periods, a senior may begin to overeat, or they may skip meals. Whether a family member or a professional caregiver, try to make sure your loved one has someone to share a meal with a few times a week to identify any changes in their eating patterns. Major changes in a senior’s weight or a nutritional deficiency could also suggest appetite changes from extreme stress.

Risky Behavior

In an attempt to distract themselves from their emotional pain, some seniors could exhibit negative behaviors. Excessive drinking, spending, gambling and sexual behavior are all significant signs that long-term stress needs to be addressed before it causes further damage.

Mental Confusion and Forgetfulness

It can be easy to pass a senior’s forgetfulness or lack of concentration off as being due to normal aging. However, seniors who suddenly have trouble remembering basic information such as names and recent events could be distracted by their emotions.

Mood Swings

Seniors who are under intense stress can display a wide range of emotions that may fluctuate without warning. Angry language, depression and sadness are common stress responses. It is also important to note that a senior may act abnormally cheerful as an attempt to cover up their true feelings.

Lack of Personal Hygiene

When a person does not feel well emotionally, they often let themselves go physically. Seniors who suddenly stop bathing, changing clothes or maintaining their dental hygiene could be experiencing depression that is caused by stress. This lack of hygiene can also extend to their home. If a senior suddenly stops cleaning their living areas, then this could also be a warning sign that they are under extreme stress.

How You Can Help

If you notice that your loved one is exhibiting any of the above signs of senior stress, sit down and have an honest conversation with them. Explain that you are concerned about their health, and listen to what they have to say. Together, you can help find a plan to better manage stress, whether it’s encouraging your loved one to participate in more hobbies or trying new relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.

As a leading provider of home care in Oklahoma, we’ve also found that a professional hourly or live-in caregiver can be extremely beneficial for seniors experiencing stress. The presence of a caregiver can help a senior to feel safe and secure, and their assistance and companionship can promote confidence, social ties and independence. A listening ear for day-to-day challenges can also go a long way in helping to alleviate some of the stress that an older adult may feel.

To learn more about senior home care, call an experienced Care Manager from Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma at 405-285-4191 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.