Stress and Stroke in Senior Citizens

Stress and stroke become synonymous with one another for older adults. As we get older, we tend to struggle with the decreased physical and mental capabilities we once had, leaving us with challenges we never imagined facing.
Those personal deteriorations paired with every day pressure of family, friends, work, money, and life can push us over the edge and lead down a dangerous path that can result in serious health problems.

How are Stress and Stroke Related?

It is no secret that strokes most commonly strike older populations, and one of the leading factors of strokes in senior citizens is stress.  Studies show that once we reach age 55, our risk for a stroke will double with each passing decade. 

Individuals with high chronic stress are 59% more likely to have a stroke, and those suffering from symptoms of depression are 86% more likely to suffer a stroke in their lifetime. 

Add other factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol and behavioral patterns like being a smoker or excessive drinker, and you have a recipe for disaster. Our bodies have a physical reaction to pressure.

The negative emotions can raise chemical levels signaled by the brain’s functioning. This controls how we process emotions, leaving our bodies vulnerable to serious risks like stroke or heart disease. 

Culprits of Elderly Stress and How to Cope

Here are some elderly stress inducers that are often unique to older populations:

  • Lack of Control:  older adults often become more dependent on the people around them when it comes to daily living activities like paying bills, maintaining the home, or getting to appointments. This lack of control can cause uneasiness about not being able to make our own choices or live like we once did.
  • Memory Impairment: As we age we begin to lose a grasp on long-term memories and short-term memories, causing frustration. The inability to find the right words, actions, or remember important events or facts can cause aggravation and loss of confidence.
  • Isolation: Being a senior citizen often means not being as mobile and agile as we once were.  We often find ourselves cut off from our friends, family, and the ability to engage in regular social interactions. This can lead to depression and aggravation.
  • Health Issues: Ongoing health issues, doctor’s appointments, and concerns significantly increase stress factors and stroke risk.
  • Loss of a spouse, relative or close friend

It should be noted that the fear of the situations described above also cause this type of anxiety.

In order to cope with such anxiety in your life, regardless of the root of the problem, it’s best to talk to a professional, meaning a doctor or psychologist as you may be suffering from depression or anxiety.

Getting involved in social activities can help you to deal with anxious feelings related to isolation or dependence on others, and getting physical activity and eating healthy can help maintain hormone levels associated with stress.

Don’t put added pressure on yourself; allow yourself to vent concerns to people you trust and try to find activities and environments that will help you to relax and feel good.

Stress and stroke risk can be reduced by seeking professional guidance from your health care professional and discussing your concerns with trusted loved ones. When it comes to pressure or feelings of uneasiness do not let yourself take on the full burden alone.  Seek support from the resources around you.

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Related Link:
American Heart Association: "High Stress, Hostility, Depression Linked with Increased Stroke Risk."
American Institute of Stress: “Seniors.”