Thank you to guest blogger, Melissa Howard
Seniors and Stress:
What’s Normal and What You Can Do About It
by Guest Blogger, Melissa Howard of stopsuicide.info
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by life, and you just want the stress to go away? Everyone feels this way at times, which is probably why an internet search turns up so many quick “solutions” to relieve stress. The reality is that there will always be stressors in life, and for seniors, they’re usually related to the changes that come with aging – not just how you feel physically but also emotional challenges like bereavement and depression. You can’t stop time, but you can make a difference by identifying these stressors and finding healthy ways of managing them.
According to the National Rehabilitation Information Center, a high percentage of seniors face one or more chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Many of these conditions can be managed with the help of your doctor, and you can often improve your quality of life with a good diet and physical activity. But the fact remains that most older adults just can’t do all the same things as when they were younger.
Dealing with physical limitations can be a pain, literally, and it can also be a stressor that affects your everyday life. You may find that it’s harder to get out to do errands, do your favorite hobbies, and even keep up with the care of your home. One solution that can relieve this stress is to downsize, either to a smaller home that you rent (eliminating the need for maintenance) or to a senior living community.
We all need to feel like we have a purpose in life, activities we enjoy, and most of all, connections with other people. Unfortunately, seniors who live at home and are unable to get out like they used to often suffer from social isolation and loneliness. This is another reason why finding a senior community can be a positive solution for many people.
When you start looking into senior living options, the first question is whether you would prefer being in an independent living community, or whether you need the extra help you could get from assisted living. If you don’t need that extra level of care but just want to get rid of the burden of living at home, an independent living community may be ideal. The best way to get a feel for what these communities are all about is to visit some. Before going, it’s good to have an ideal location in mind, a list of amenities that are most important to you, and a budget you can work with. In Austin, you can expect the cost of an independent living community to be anywhere in the range of $1,500 to $9,650 per month.
This type of community is more like a neighborhood than a facility, but it’s one that is tailored to seniors’ needs. Besides giving you an accessible, maintenance-free place to call home, they also provide on-site activities. This is a valuable resource for seniors because it takes away those barriers to staying active and socially engaged.
Because it’s common for seniors to have stressors like physical limitations and even loneliness, many people assume that mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are normal for seniors, too. It’s true that many of the changes that come with aging can trigger mental health problems, but that doesn’t mean you have to just accept them. Sometimes seniors have symptoms that you don’t even realize have to do with mental health! The irony is that left untreated, mental health problems like depression can make your physical health worse. This is why it’s so important for seniors to recognize the symptoms and reach out to a family member, friend, or health practitioner for help.
When we’re younger, stressors tend to come from the challenges of raising children or the demands of work. For seniors, those stressors go away, but they’re often replaced with new ones. Yet even though some kind of stress impacts us at every age, we can always find ways of coping – and ways of rediscovering the joys in life.