Elderly Health: The Negative Effects of Stress on Older Individuals

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What if the worst part of getting older was the stress?

Everybody deals with stress throughout each week. However, most of us aren’t aware enough of how stress uniquely affects the elderly.

The truth is that stress has major effects on elderly health. Keep reading to find out exactly what those effects are!

Why Are Older People Likelier to Be Stressed?

Our guide focuses on how stress can affect elderly health. Before we go any further, it’s important to detail why older people may be at a higher risk for stress.

One of the biggest sources of stress can be your health. As your overall health declines and you face various health scares, it can create ongoing stress about your overall health. And the rising costs of healthcare can make that stress even worse.

You may also be experiencing isolation that causes stress. Once children move out of the house, you may feel lonely when it is just you and your spouse. And if your spouse dies (or you lose someone else, like a friend, family member, or even pet), it can make you feel even more lonely and isolated.

Many older people also feel stress because they are now very dependent on other people. And you might even feel stressed due to a lack of purpose. While you are meant to relax in your golden years, plenty of older people worry about having no great challenges left to complete.

Now that you know why older people are likely to experience stress, let’s take a closer look at the impact this stress has on elderly health.

Stress and Heart Problems

What happens when you experience stress? Your body floods with hormones like adrenaline. In turn, that adrenaline leads to increases in your heart rate and blood pressure, which increases your risk of stroke.

Additionally, there is a major link between stress and heart disease. Regular and ongoing stress may put your heart health in extreme danger.

Instead of treating this issue with medication or lifestyle changes, many seniors turn to stress relief in the form of food, alcohol, and recreational drugs. But too much of any of this can cause additional problems while also hurting your blood vessels and arteries and increasing your overall risk of heart disease.

Your Immune System and Stress

When it comes to stress, many elderly people confuse the cause with the effects. For example, if you are sick and stressed, it’s easy to think that you are simply stressed over being sick.

In reality, it is likely that stress made you sick. This is because being stressed lowers your immune system and makes you more susceptible to illness.

While this can happen to people of any age, seniors already have a risk of a lowered immune system due to aging (which is just one more reason you don’t recover from sickness as quickly as you did when you were younger).

Dental Health and Stress

Many people are surprised to hear about the link between their stress and their dental health. In reality, this link is more obvious than you might expect.

As a reaction to stress, many of us automatically clench our teeth. But doing this regularly means you are constantly grinding your teeth.

Such grinding makes your teeth likelier to fracture or develop cavities. Conversely, removing the stressors from your life is one of the best possible things you can do for your dental health.

Stress, Vision, and Hearing

You might expect deteriorating vision and hearing may just be a part of getting older. But stress can make these issues worse, especially for older people.

That’s because stress causes adrenaline to flow through your body, and that adrenaline actually constricts your blood vessels. Once you are stressed out, your vision and hearing may get worse.

The good news is that this kind of negative impact on your vision and hearing is only temporary. If you can clear the stress out of your life, your eyes and ears will feel practically brand new.

Elderly Health, Stress, and Digestion

It’s something of an open secret that stress can impact your digestive health. After all, plenty of people react to stress by saying that the stressor is making them sick to their stomach.

How, though, does stress actually affect your digestion? It’s all a matter of your body’s “fight or flight” response.

This response occurs in your central nervous system and helps tell you whether to run from something dangerous or confront it head-on. And for the most part, this evolutionary response helps to keep us safe.

But that same effect reduces the blood flow needed for a healthy digestive system. And you end up getting the worst of both worlds: stress will make your digestive muscles contract while reducing the assorted secretions that promote a healthy digestive system.

Such digestive issues are annoying enough in the short-term. But if you continue to experience stress and digestive problems, you might eventually develop longer-term issues such as ulcers and IBS.

Memory Issues and Stress

You might already be struggling with memory issues as you get older. Sadly, stress can make this experience worse.

That’s because stress releases cortisol in your body. Cortisol has its purposes, but it can ultimately damage your brain cells until they require repair.

That healing process takes longer once you are older. And if you are frequently stressed, your brain cells don’t have enough time to adequately recover. Eventually, all of that stress may add up to a more serious memory disorder such as Alzheimer’s.

Your Next Move

Now you know how stress can impact elderly health. But do you know how you can fight back against that?

The right information and products can reduce stress and improve your quality of life. To discover the kinds of research and other info that may provide a healthier and longer life, just contact us today!