Stress and the Older Adult- Dean - WI

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Stress and the Older Adult

Stress and the Older Adult

Ah, the golden years — worry free living for the rest of your days. Sounds great, but is it reality? Stress is all around us and older adults are not immune to it. There are many ways for young and old to handle stress — some are healthy, others are not.

Older adults often have different types of stress compared to younger adults. The stress of raising kids and working can give way to the stress of declining health, financial concerns, and growing isolation.

Some stress is inevitable, but as you get older, there are a wide variety of things that you can do to minimize stress and maximize happiness.

  • Exercise your body — Trying to be physically active every day can help to decrease joint stiffness, improve your mood and reduce your stress. Try scheduling in some exercise every day, such as a walk with a friend to get you out of the house.
  • Exercise your brain — Use it or lose it" is a common mantra today. Scientists now believe that we can continue to learn and form new brain pathways as we age. Doing crossword puzzles, reading a good book, and taking a class can keep your mind sharp and reduce stress.
  • Be careful with alcohol — When stress increases, some people turn to alcohol. This can result in a variety of negative effects that can make stress worse. In general, older adults should limit alcohol to 1 drink per day or fewer.
  • Don't isolate yourself — Maintaining relationships with others can be an important stress reducer. Going to church, watching your grandkids, or working at a part-time job can help you stay connected to others.
  • Don't overdo it when it comes to the news — On a daily basis, we see newspaper and TV reports of terrorism, natural disasters, and financial meltdowns. While it is good to try and stay up to date, learning about events we have no control over can add unnecessary stress to our lives. Put the newspaper down and turn off the television.
  • Get help — Avoiding stress is not the answer. Sometimes, meeting the challenges head on with help can significantly reduce your stress. If you or your spouse is disabled, get help. If your arthritic knee prevents you from engaging in activities that you enjoy, seek medical care. If you are overwhelmed with stress, ask your doctor to refer you to someone who can help.

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