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What are the Effects of Stress on Seniors?

What are the Effects of Stress on Seniors?

What are the Effects of Stress on Seniors?

Stress is dangerous for our health, but it has major negative effects on seniors. Any time they experience extreme stress, it can manifest itself physically and mentally, decreasing their well-being and impacting their quality of life.  As we age, stress affects us differently and it is crucially important to recognize the signs of stress and make sure we manage stress so that we can live a long and happy lives.

How Stress Affects the Elderly

As our body ages, we become more sedentary, and our body doesn’t function the same way. Most seniors experience a decline in heart and lung capacity.  Not moving the body as much makes it tougher to deal with the stress response like it used to when younger. There are also many seniors that are dealing with diseases that are chronic which are even harder on the body.

When there is stress, our body recognizes it, and the stress hormone overwhelms our brain. The stress hormone controls concentration, attention, and decision making. At times, this can affect people in the form of having short-term memory problems. This issue is usually resolved by sleep which gets rid of the stress hormone from the brain by flushing it out while we sleep. But many seniors struggle with sleep problems, so the stress hormone is not flushed out and over time, this affects their cognitive abilities.

Common causes of stress in seniors:

  • Lifestyle changes after retiring
  • Caring for grandkids or an ill spouse
  • Death of a family member or friends
  • Loss of mobility as we age and effects of various chronic diseases
  • Worries about not being able to live independently
  • Worries about being institutionalized

Everybody experiences stress in different ways. Whether the senior is experiencing mental or physical stress, it is important to recognize the symptoms. Here are a few common symptoms:

Symptoms of Stress


  • Inability to sleep
  • Not having interest in eating
  • Urinating frequently
  • Having pain and experiencing tiredness
  • Increased heart rate and pulse
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Slowdown of the digestive system
  • Quick breathing
  • Increase in cortisol
  • Increased sense of alertness from not enough sleep
  • Failure of the immune system

Emotional & physiological:

  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to concentrate

Stress has long been known to affect the mind and body negatively. If we don’t manage our stress well, it can lead to chronic stress.

We know that stress can have a major impact on our quality of life. Therefore, it is important to manage our stress so that we can live long, healthy, and happy lives. Below are some ideas on how seniors can manage their stress, however it is important for them to consult their doctor before starting any exercise or other programs. This is to ensure that it is safe for them to practice it and to address any underlying conditions or current medications they may be taking.

How the elderly should manage stress:

  • They can consider volunteer work and engage in their community to help those in need. This will help put them in a better emotional state. Plus, this is a great way to socialize with other like-minded people.
  • Sharing stress and emotions with friends and family can help alleviate some of the stress the senior may be feeling.
  • Thinking positively and focusing on achievements can help boost self-confidence and relieve stress.
  • Having fun with friends and family, living a healthy lifestyle, and practicing relaxation exercises can help with stress management.
  • Daily exercise helps with stress relief, as it keeps the body sharp and the senior more mobile.
  • Eating a healthy diet and avoiding sugar can help seniors live a longer life.
  • Body manipulation exercises such as through yoga, tai chi, reiki, massage etc.


Stress is something we all experience at some point in our lives; however, it is how we react to it that is important. If we are feeling stressed, we must recognize our stressors, address them, and make sure that we manage the stress before it becomes chronic and causes further issues with our health.


Home Care Agency Naperville Illinois

Are you or a loved one in need of senior care? Assisting Hands can help. Our caregivers are experienced in caring for seniors and adults with disabilities. We also provide excellent companion care for your loved ones and make sure to engage your loved one in fun conversations and activities so they can build a relationship with them. We offer non-medical home health care in  Glen Ellyn, Warrenville, Naperville, Westmont, Woodridge, Lisle, Wheaton, IL and the surrounding areas of DuPage County. Call us at (630) 634-9316 to schedule a free in-home consultation today so that we can learn about your loved one’s needs and provide them with effective care right in their home.