In Oxford and elsewhere in the US, people will be acknowledging Stress Awareness Month in April, and since April is typically the month where springtime makes an appearance, this can represent a new beginning for the senior as well, at least in regard to managing stress. Senior home care professionals are generally well aware of how stress can impact the lives of their senior charges, and can then take steps to manage and reduce this stress level. There are almost always some easily observable signs that will tell whether a senior is being impacted by stress, so just paying close attention will tip you off. Once you’ve identified that a senior is stressed about something, an appropriate response can be made before the stress level begins to impact the senior’s health. Here are some of the signs you should look for.
Changes in appetite
When a senior individual has had a history of good appetite and then suddenly exhibits behavior where they’re picking at food, the culprit might be excessive stress. It’s very possible for someone to have a stress level high enough that it literally takes away all enjoyment even of basic activities like eating. Obviously, a change in appetite could be attributable to other sources as well, for instance, illnesses or medical conditions. But if a senior loved one does suddenly exhibit a significant change in their eating behavior, it’s definitely worth investigating further, so as to find out what the source of the stress is.
Rapid mood swings
If your senior loved one is generally happy and cheerful, then suddenly undergoes a change of behavior where they appear depressed, it’s very possible that they’re coping with some kind of stress. You might find that your elderly loved one becomes angry much easier, or you may even discover them crying when they think no one’s around. If you should observe hostile or confrontational behavior in an elderly person, don’t just write it off as them being stubborn or cantankerous. It could well be a sign that they are suffering from excessive stress, and are simply acting out as a result. If you find this to be true in your home, take some time to consider any recent developments which might be causing excessive stress for your elderly loved one.
Sometimes elderly people who are suffering from excessive stress will have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night. A change in sleeping patterns could have other causes than stress, but once again it’s always worth further investigation to try to find out the source of the change in behavior. If the change in sleeping habits occurs at a time when some new stressful element has entered the senior person’s life, it’s entirely possible that this new behavior is totally stress-related. This is even more likely to be true when the senior hasn’t had any prior difficulties with falling asleep or sleeping through the night. It is true that most seniors don’t need as much sleep as younger people do, and that they don’t need as much sleep as they did when they were younger. However, when you notice a very sudden change in sleeping behaviors as opposed to a gradual one, there’s a very good chance that this change in behavior is directly attributable to stress.
A great many people in their later years prefer to be alone and to withdraw somewhat from society. However, if your elderly loved one was always very active and had a rich social life, and suddenly begins to isolate themselves from society, it might very well be that they have become excessively stressed and simply can’t cope with it. If something significant has changed recently in the life of your senior loved one, like the death of a close friend or family member, there’s a good chance that their sudden isolation could be stress-related.
It’s fairly well known that when an elderly person has a strong social support network, they will be able to cope with the uncertainties of life much better. It’s also true that when a senior has a strong social support network, they typically are subject to far fewer negative events in their lives. This is often because of the beneficial aid and advice they get from their support network members. Obviously, it’s simply not possible to avoid all stressors and all negative events. But having a strong support network of friends can definitely buffer a lot of the negativity involved with such events so that a senior can continue their normal daily lives without becoming withdrawn.
When you observe dramatically different behavior in an elderly loved one and this behavior occurs on a fairly sudden basis, it’s entirely possible that it’s stress-related. As an example, you might find that a senior who has historically been very frugal with their money might suddenly begin to spend indiscriminately and extravagantly. You might also find that a senior who used to be excellent at remembering information such as names and places suddenly can’t remember a lot of them. This could be due to an increased stress level. When elderly people are preoccupied with bad news or negative events, it can interfere with memory functions and cause them to forget important names and places. This is because they’re just not able to take the time and effort required to remember all those important names and places.