Our thanks to Kent Elliot for this contribution to our blog.
Stress can affect us at any age, but seniors are often triggered by different types of stressors than kids, teens, and adults of other ages. For instance, the American Institute of Stress (AIS) explains that some of the most common stressors among seniors include the loss of a loved one, changes in personal relationships, and physical impairments affecting the five senses. For some older adults, the lack of structure in their daily lives can become problematic as well.
While some strategies for senior stress management may include a combination of meditation, yoga, exercise, healthy eating, and controlled breathing, other treatments include antidepressants and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. Since recommended treatments vary widely by situation, it’s important to speak with a doctor about your symptoms and the different types of solutions that may be available to you.
Read on to learn more about the stressors that most seniors face, as well as the steps you can take to get the emotional support you need when managing any ongoing worries and fears.
Common Stressors Affecting Seniors
For many seniors, difficult life situations can result in feeling stressed, fearful, or emotionally unwell—especially if they begin to notice changes in the ability to walk, talk, hear or see. Many seniors also experience stress after the development of an age-related health condition or mobility impairment, as this may lead to the fear of losing the ability to live independently, age in place, or drive a vehicle.
Changes to finances or socioeconomic status—especially after retirement—may also cause seniors to worry about their financial standing more than ever before. Depending on their financial situation and current state of health, seniors may even worry that they cannot afford to support themselves as they age. However, working with a financial advisor and setting a budget may help to ease some of those worries.
Moreover, the loss of loved ones or any change in their personal relationships is another common stressor among seniors. For many older adults, the fear of losing a child, spouse, pet, or another loved one is more worrisome than the thought of their own death. However, speaking with a trained mental health professional can help seniors to control their fears and develop a plan for the future.
How to Get the Emotional Support You Need
Anxiety disorders in seniors may occur as a result of extreme stress, trauma, bereavement, neurodegenerative disorders, or other medical conditions. As such, it’s important to identify your stressors and know when to seek professional help for chronic stress, anxiety and/or depression.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 19 percent of adults age 60 and older take an antidepressant medication for relieving symptoms of stress, depression, and/or anxiety. While some seniors may be able to control their stress without the use of antidepressants, it’s important to meet with a doctor to discuss your symptoms as soon as you begin to worry about your emotional health and well-being.
If the cost of seeking professional help for your emotional health is holding you back, however, keep in mind that Medicare Part B includes coverage for counseling with specialists such as psychiatrists and clinical social workers, as well as other mental health services. Plus, Medicare Part B provides you with one free depression screening each year. To schedule your free screening, contact your primary caregiver.
Relief from Age-Related Stress is Possible
Stress affects us at all walks of life, but our ability to cope with stress becomes even more difficult as we age. As such, it’s important to seek immediate treatment for stress to reduce your risk of heart disease and other stress-related medical conditions such as high blood pressure. By seeking treatment for your stress, anxiety, and/or depression, you will improve your quality of life and prepare yourself for any other obstacles that may come your way.