Are You Anxious? 5 Ways Older Adults Can Manage Stress

An older adult feels the anxiety of aging and thinks about ways to manage stress.
Even if you're retired, managing stress can be difficult for active adults.

Managing stress is easier said than done, especially for older adults. Mental Health America reports that up to 14 percent of older adults exhibit symptoms of a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Life offers positive and negative experiences, and stress is an inevitable effect of the latter. Unfortunately, older adults may have many justified reasons to be stressed or anxious, which can affect their overall health and quality of life negatively.

You can drastically improve your older loved ones’ overall health and quality of life by helping them manage and have less stress and anxiety. Here’s a comprehensive guide on understanding and managing stress and anxiety in older adults.

Effects of Stress and Anxiety on Older Adults

A senior man rubbing tired eyes.

The effects of stress and anxiety go beyond worrying. The effects of these mental disorders can affect your overall mental and physical health in the following ways:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Lack of sleep
  • Muscular tension and fatigue
  • Suppressed natural immunity
  • Lack of appetite
  • Suppressed digestion
  • Memory loss

Stress and anxiety are common disorders that many people struggle with for most of their lives, and their effects on the person’s overall health are usually incremental. To this end, these symptoms may be more profound in older adults compared to the younger generations. It’s also worth noting that stress and anxiety are also associated with some common chronic conditions among older adults, including diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

5 Tips to Manage Stress and Anxiety in Older Adults

A senior woman comforting a stressed senior man on a bench outside.

Stress and anxiety may be inevitable life experiences, but they’re controllable and manageable. An efficient stress and anxiety coping strategy can also help manage or prevent most of the aforementioned conditions.

Here’s an overview of five tested-and-proven tips to help manage stress and anxiety in older adults:

1. Downsize Living Space

Older adults often don’t need the extra room in a large house. For example, they don’t need two or three bedrooms and bathrooms if they live alone.

However, older adults can’t simply ignore the extra space despite not needing it. For example, they can feel compelled to clean all rooms for proper upkeep and maintenance. The extra space can also make it more difficult to move around the house. It’s also worth noting that the empty room can magnify feelings of loneliness, worsening their stress and anxiety.

A downsized space would be easier to manage and navigate for older adults. They would have an easier time locating their stuff and moving around the house from room to room. Downsizing would also lessen upkeep and allow the older adults more free time to engage in more productive activities.

Moving into a 55+ community is an excellent way to downsize an older adult’s living space—and manage many other causes of stress and anxiety. Interestingly, a study by the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reports that 27 percent of older adults living in such communities have less stress and anxiety.

2. Socialize More

People are social beings, and prolonged isolation from other people can cause many mental and physical conditions. In contrast, socializing can benefit a person’s mental and physical health in dozens of ways. Older adults have a lot of free time, but most usually don’t have a friend or loved one with whom they can spend quality time.

A study published in The Journals of Gerontology shows that older adults who socialize with people outside their immediate circle of friends and loved ones exhibit high positive moods. It’s also worth noting that a 55+ community offers older adults an opportunity to socialize and interact with other older adults. It’s a tight-knit community where everyone shares the same perspective, and you are bound to find someone who shares your interests.

3. Exercise Regularly

Memory loss is a common condition among older adults. It’s also one of the common causes of stress and anxiety. Fortunately, regular physical exercises spur the production of new brain cells to help improve older adults’ learning and memory retention capacities, making them feel self-aware and self-confident. Exercising also helps improve your overall mood, helping you manage stress.

It’s also worth noting that body manipulation activities such as yoga and massage can also help reduce stress and anxiety and some of their symptoms. For example, massage therapy helps the mind relax (forget your stress) and reduces physical symptoms such as fatigue and muscle pain.

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

The brain produces the hormones that regulate emotions such as stress and happiness, and it needs nutrients such as proteins, vitamins, and minerals to function properly. Unfortunately, most refined foods don’t contain enough nutrients to support your overall mental and physical health. These foods also contain too much sugar, which is linked to conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

Eating a healthy diet can help improve your mood and overall mental and physical health. It’s also recommended to take nutrient supplements if your diet doesn’t contain enough nutrients.

5. Get a Hobby to Manage Stress

Older adults usually have a lot of free time and not enough people with whom to spend it. However, you don’t need other people to enjoy your free time. Practicing your hobby (or learning a new one) is a productive way to occupy your mind. A good hobby can be anything you like, from taking long walks to watching comedy classics and everything in-between.

Living in a 55+ Community Can Help

A loving caring grandfather looking at his cute little granddaughter.

Ideally, older adults should spend their sunset years enjoying the best of whatever life has to offer—not struggling with stress and anxiety. The tips discussed in this guide will help you and your older loved ones manage and overcome stress and anxiety. Most notably, moving into a 55+ community will help solve most day-to-day complications.

If you’d like to explore 55+ communities in your area, please visit our website to use our advanced 55+ community search tool.

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