Increase Senior Life Expectancy by Minimizing Stress

Posted On Thursday, 09 August 2018
Increase Senior Life Expectancy by Minimizing Stress

Stress is something we all deal with on a regular basis, but we usually don’t realize just how detrimental it can be to our health.

In particular, stress can be very problematic for seniors, who are already dealing with other health challenges that come along with getting older.

Seniors looking to increase their life expectancy and live a happier, more comfortable life should focus on reducing their stress levels, particularly if they are living in senior homes or memory care homes.

Here are some ways that seniors can reduce the stress they experience on a daily basis.

Socialize
Socialization is an easy natural way to reduce stress levels. Humans are social animals, and being around other people we enjoy and care about releases chemicals in the brain that help us relax. Unfortunately, many seniors don’t get enough social interaction, particularly if they are living alone or living in senior communities away from their families. If this is the case for you or a senior in your life, you’ll have to take action to make sure socialization is still a part of your weekly routine. If you can, arrange to see family or friends on a regular basis to do something you really enjoy.

Even if you don’t get much time with them, the quality of the time you do spend together can be enough to reduce your stress levels. It’s also important to look for groups where you can interact with other people your age or people who have the same interests as you. Many senior centers and community centers offer social activities where you can make new friends.

Keep Up with Hobbies
Hobbies are a great way to reduce stress and exercise your creativity. Just because you’ve transitioned into retirement living doesn’t mean you have to give up the hobbies you love, whether it’s cooking, creating art, gardening, or even playing a sport. You may need to modify your hobbies to fit your current physical limitations, but it’s very important that you still take time to enjoy them. Practicing hobbies is not only stress relieving, but it allows seniors to maintain a sense of independence that’s very important as they transition into assisted living.

Get Enough Sleep
Sleep and stress levels are often directly correlated, so it’s important not to skimp on sleep, no matter how difficult it is. When you don’t sleep, it becomes much harder to handle the stressors in your life, which can lead to bigger health problems and general unhappiness. If you struggle to get enough sleep, try setting a reminder alarm to tell you when to go to bed. It’s a simple trick, but it can be the boost you need to get on a good sleep schedule. Most senior adults will need at least seven to nine hours of sleep to feel well rested, but some may need more. Talk with your doctor to determine what’s best for your personal needs.

Get Outside
Being outside in the fresh air is naturally stress relieving, but unfortunately many senior adults don’t get much time outside if they’re living in senior care homes. Taking the time to go outside, even if it’s just for a gentle 20 minute walk or sitting on a patio, can be incredibly relaxing. It exposes seniors to sunlight, which provides essential vitamin D and boosts moods. The change of scenery is also cognitively stimulating, which is a big benefit for seniors. If you have a senior in your life who can’t go outside on their own, consider taking the time to help them get outside safely with you.

Train Your Brain 
Cognitive stimulation is very important for older adults, because it helps keep brain functioning sharp. It also makes a great distraction from the stressors of daily life. Adding some cognitive stimulation to your daily routine is a great way to relax, have fun, and keep your mental skills strong regardless of age. There are many different ways to cognitively stimulate your brain--doing a crossword or Sudoku puzzle, playing a game on your phone, or even just reading are all great options. Make sure you choose a form of cognitive stimulation you enjoy, otherwise it won’t be particularly stress relieving and you won’t be as motivated to do it.

Make Your Space Your Own
A big struggle that many seniors have when transitioning from living independently to living in a senior care center is making their new space feel like home. It’s very important that wherever you live feels comfortable, homey, and makes you happy, otherwise it can create natural feelings of stress. It’s also important that the space is clean and that the senior has enough room to move around naturally. Bringing photographs and artwork from home is a good way to make the space feel more personalized. Having greenery in the space is also very helpful if it is allowed. Colors brighten everything up and can boost the senior’s mood.

Make Exercise a Part of Your Routine
Exercise has been proven to release endorphins in the brain, which help you relax and reduce stress levels. As the body ages, it’s still very important to exercise on a regular basis. Seniors should take the time to explore different kinds of exercise and find a form they like, whether that be yoga, walking, swimming, aerobics classes, or something else. There are many gentle forms of exercise out there that aren’t too hard on the body for seniors. If you aren’t sure how to get started with exercise, look to local gyms, community centers, and workout studios to see what kind of options they offer. There’s such a wide variety to choose from, so with a little trial and error, you’ll be sure to find something you enjoy.

Managing stress levels can be difficult, but it’s very important for seniors to take the time to do so. Keeping your stress levels under control is one of the best ways to live a longer life and have more time with your loved ones. If you’re struggling to keep your stress levels down, consult your doctor for tips on this and other senior living help.

Holly Klamer

Holly Klamer is a connector with Senior Guidance and Senior Living Help, both of which provide comprehensive resources on various senior living options. She loves working in the ever-changing world of digital and is fascinated by the role content plays in today’s marketing.

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