Stress on the Elderly: Understanding the Physical and Emotional Symptoms and Ways to Reduce It

7 Apr 2023 | Advice

As we age, our bodies and minds undergo numerous changes. Unfortunately, these changes can sometimes lead to stress, negatively impacting our physical and emotional health. For the elderly, stress often manifests itself in more physical ways and can create underlying health problems. In this blog post, we’ll explore the physical and emotional symptoms of stress in the elderly and provide some tips on reducing them.

Physical Symptoms of Stress in the Elderly

Physical warning signs of stress can include headaches, sleep problems, insomnia, fatigue (physical and mental), difficulty concentrating, change in appetite, muscle tension/pain, chest pain, stomach upset including constipation, bloating, and diarrhoea. These symptoms can be debilitating and lead to other health problems if not addressed.

Emotional Symptoms of Stress in the Elderly

In addition to physical symptoms, stress can manifest itself emotionally. Three emotional symptoms of stress in the elderly are anxiety or irritability, depression and sadness, and panic attacks. These symptoms can be just as debilitating as physical symptoms and can lead to a decrease in the overall quality of life.

Situational Causes of Increased Chronic Stress in Elderly Adults

There are many situational causes of increased chronic stress in elderly adults. These include:

  • Retirement
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Heart disease
  • Too much unstructured time/boredom
  • Declining physical abilities
  • Financial concerns about the future
  • Caretaking demands for a spouse, parent, or other loved one
  • Moving to a new residence
  • Worrying about their general health when common signs and symptoms of ageing appear

Ways to Reduce Stress in the Elderly

Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce stress in older adults. Staying close to friends and family is an excellent way to reduce stress. Social interactions can help older people remain mentally sharp and may reduce the risk of Dementia & Alzheimer’s disease. Other ways to reduce stress include staying active, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and contacting your GP.

Staying Active

Staying active is an excellent way to reduce stress in older adults. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase overall physical health. Activities such as walking, swimming, and yoga are great options for seniors who may be unable to engage in more strenuous activities.

Eating a Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet is also crucial for reducing stress in older people. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help improve mood and reduce inflammation. It’s also important for older adults to stay hydrated and limit their intake of caffeine and alcohol, which can exacerbate symptoms of stress.

Getting Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial for reducing stress in the elderly. Sleep is essential for overall physical and mental health, and lack of sleep can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Seniors should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and establish a regular sleep routine to improve the quality of their sleep.

Contacting Your GP

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of stress, it’s important to contact your GP. They can provide a diagnosis and recommend treatment options, including therapy, medication, or other interventions.

Stress is a common problem among the elderly that affects their quality of life. Physical and emotional symptoms of stress can be debilitating and lead to other health problems if not addressed. 

There are many resources available for emotional and mental health advice and support. Helplines such as Samaritans, The Silver Line, Mind, and Rethink Mental Illness are available for those who need confidential help and advice. Additionally, if you need urgent support, you can contact your GP for an urgent appointment, call the NHS 111 service, or call Samaritans for 24-hour confidential support. 

Eximius Live-in care is also available for advice and support at Remember, you are not alone, and help is available to support you through difficult times.

You may also be interested in the following:

Top Tips For Older Adults To Get A Better Nights Sleep 

Preventing Falls In The Elderly

Are Pets A Good Idea For The Elderly?

How To Eat Well As You Age