Today’s Health Topic
Stress relief tips for older adults
Stress in adults, especially older adults, has many causes. You may experience it as a result of managing chronic illness, losing a spouse, being a caregiver, or adjusting to changes due to finances, retirement, or separation from friends and family. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do for stress relief.
Tailor the treatment
The type of stress relief that works best depends on what someone is experiencing. For example, if insomnia is a considerable source of stress in adults, a special type of cognitive behavioral therapy designed to treat insomnia, called CBT-i, may help. It aims to correct ingrained patterns of self-defeating behavior and negative thoughts that can rob you of sufficient amounts of sleep. In fact, the American College of Physicians now recommends CBT-i over medications as the first-line treatment for insomnia.
If disability is a source of stress, changes in your home may help you live more independently. Turn to your doctor, a geriatrician, an occupational therapist, or a staff member at your local council on aging for guidance.
Fixes for all
General stress in adults may be reduced with some of the following ideas, as reported in the Harvard Special Health Report Stress Management:
Engage in regular physical activity. If you are infirm, ask your doctor whether you might benefit from certain types of exercise, such as tai chi, which enhances balance. Many other kinds of physical activity improve your health, lift your mood, and reduce stress, too.
Consider whether you might benefit from a course in assertiveness training that would help you state your wishes and handle conflicts.
Join a support group if you are dealing with bereavement.
Think about getting a pet—both the pluses and minuses. Several studies support the stress-lowering effects of having a dog, cat, or other animal companion. But don’t forget to take into consideration the physical and financial challenges of pet ownership.
Attend a mind-body program. These can help at any age. Some are specifically designed for seniors. Others may focus on chronic pain or specific ailments, such as heart disease.