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Stress and seniors

For many seniors, the "golden years" can be incredibly stressful.

What are some common causes of stress in seniors? Change is a major stressor and seniors experience a lot of change in their lives: poor health; death of family, friends and even spouses; loss of independence; loss of income due to the economy; and maybe a move to a different housing situation.

Some seniors even have to wonder how they are going to make ends meet as the cost of everything continues to rise, from gasoline prices to property taxes, to the cost of prescription drugs and groceries.

People often experience a lot of stress during a move. It may be to a smaller home or condo or in with the family of a child or to an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Moving from the place that has been home for decades is particularly stressful. A person may no longer be able to keep personal belongings, having to downsize. A senior may lose privacy and control over their daily life. They may not be able to eat what they want and when they want.

Fortunately, seniors can control stress and counteract its harmful effects in a variety of healthy ways.

Exercise that gets your heart beating a little bit faster can be a great stress reliever. This can include walking, swimming, biking and dancing.

Yard work and house work are other great options for reducing stress.

Eating a nutritious diet along with exercise can reduce stress levels.

Older people who have pets are often less stressed. Pets make great companions and also give their owners the attention and companionship that they need. Research has shown that having a pet can reduce blood pressure in the elderly.

Prayer also empowers and lifts burdens for people. Worshiping with others and sharing concerns can also relieve stressful feelings. Talk troubles over with friends and family. This may not solve the problem at hand but will give them a release.

Consider volunteering as an activity to help relieve stress. Share your time and talents for a worthy cause and give yourself some focus.

People respond to stress in different ways. These may include crying, withdrawal and depression. It is important to allow an elderly person to maintain as much independence as possible.

If stress interferes with a person's eating, health or normal daily activities, they should be referred to their physician for guidance.