Stress for Elderly Parents and Caregivers

Stress has many sources for elderly parents and for caregivers as well: financial

issues, the loss of a loved one, the pressure of day to day care activities when meeting the needs of an elderly parent.

Discovering that you are no longer capable of taking care of yourself due to aging and must either rely on children or health care services for your needs causes a multitude of physical and mental issues for many seniors.

For the elderly parent and a giver of elderly care stress takes an emotional, mental and physical toll on individuals, leading many to drug or alcohol dependency. This also leads to depression, illness, insomnia and various health conditions.

Sources of Stress for Elderly Parents

Many seniors and the elderly grow stressful over their situations and their lack of ability to do for themselves like they once used to. They worry over health problems and medical conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, and the constant fear of developing Alzheimer or Parkinson's.

elderly stress

For Information on Anger and Resentment of Seniors please visit our web page Anger and Resentment for Seniors

Roughly 15 million seniors suffer from serious financial debt and are showing signs of health problems because of it.

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Nearly 30% of senior citizens have ulcers or digestive problems. Nearly 50% suffer from headaches. Another 30% suffer severe anxiety symptoms and an alarming 25% have been diagnosed with severe depression. Nearly 6% of senior citizens suffering from financial difficulties have suffered a heart attack.

Sources of Stress for Caregivers

Caregivers also face this issue, frustration and depression while providing care for their elderly parent. Many caregivers give their all to take care of aging parents or elderly family members. Caregivers with high maintenance parents or those providing end-of-life care experience periods of frustration, sorrow, regret, and grief.

elderly stress

Some caregivers suffer from burnout and isolation. While caring for elderly parents does bring with it a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, the physical and emotional demands of the elderly, especially those suffering from different stages of Alzheimer's or end-stage disease processes require great amounts of patience and time.

Roughly 20% of caregivers within a family unit suffer from mild to moderate depression. The percentage increases in children or family members caring for someone diagnosed with Alzheimer's or other disease processes such as dementia, Parkinson's and end-stage disease processes.

How to Identify Symptoms

Some of the most common signs and symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Pounding heart rate or chest pain
  • Chronic muscle aches and pains
  • Sleeping difficulties and insomnia
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation
  • Weight loss or gain

This may also lead to complete lack of appetite or overeating. Moods become erratic, leading to short tempers, suspicion and even blaming others for difficulties.

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For some, this issue leads to depression and a complete withdrawal from social activities. Relationship problems, drug or alcohol abuse is often seen in individuals suffering from long-term stress.

Dealing with Stress

One of the most effective – yet difficult – ways to deal with this issue is to meet it head on. Determination, the support of friends and family members, and a willingness to discuss private or embarrassing issues is often the only way to effectively cope.

elderly stress

Whether you're a senior citizen worried about your finances or a caregiver who feels guilty because you're tired of caring for your elderly parents who has

been diagnosed with dementia, here are some of the best ways to help cope:

  • Involve someone – talk to someone! Now is not the time for pride or embarrassment. Talk about your concerns, your complaints, your feelings – you, and your body will be grateful to get them off your chest.
  • Take care of your own health! –Eat right. Exercise. Enjoy a day off for doing what YOU want to do. Enlist the help of neighbors, family or friends to help you achieve this.
  • Get enough sleep! – Sleep is vital for good health. Make it a point not to worry about finances, relationships or concerns right before bedtime.
  • Eat well! – A properly balanced diet will help stave off the blues for many individuals who also exercise and watch their weight.
  • Find and maintain social contact with others – Interaction and support from others can make a world of difference for elderly parents and their caregivers.

Stress Relaxation Techniques

Management relaxation techniques will help you fight the battle against this issue.

Here are a few:

  • Muscle relaxation – Focus on tensing and then relaxing muscles found in your major muscle groups; shoulders, arms, legs, fingers and toes
  • Visualization – Imagine a beautiful or relaxing place and then plant yourself right in the middle of it. Picture a mountain meadow, a beach, or a mountaintop – take yourself away!
  • Engage in gentle exercise such as Yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates
  • Listen to soft music

Bottom Line

Elder Care is a stressful task. It doesn't matter how much you love your elderly parent, it takes a lot of dedication, determination and compassion to care for someone 24 hours a day for weeks, months or even years. Don't feel guilty for those moments when you resent your task. That's normal. However, do try to find ways to constructively deal with your issues, and with the issues of caring for elderly parent or parents, to ensure that this issue doesn't add to your burdens.

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