Did you know that according to the American Institute of Stress, in January 2021, almost 28% of seniors (aged 50 to 80) reported feeling down or hopeless for a few days to a few weeks? Additionally, 44% complained they were feeling stressed.
Nobody can dispute the irritating nature of stress, especially as we approach the elder years of our lives. Everyone has their way of handling stress. However, seniors have more difficulty finding ways to relieve stress due to their health conditions and decreased mobility.
If you’ve noticed that you or your elderly parents have been feeling stressed recently, we have the answer for you. This article will discuss active relaxation, including its benefits and activities for stress management.
Active Relaxation for Stress Reduction in Senior Citizens
How Does Stress Affect Seniors?
Stress can seriously affect the productivity of how you or your loved ones complete daily tasks. Stress frequently shows up more physically as we become older. Warning signs of stress include
- Tiredness/ fatigue
- Difficulty focusing
- Appetite change or loss
- Muscle tension
- Emotional and behavioral change
- And more
The American Heart Association suggests that chronic stress is also a potential cause of heart disease. Stress leads to high blood pressure, increasing heart attack and stroke risks.
Chronic stress can manifest as cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms. However, not every adult will exhibit symptoms from all four categories. But if you or your parent consistently shows three of these signs, you should be concerned that you or they may be dealing with chronic stress.
Treatment plans for seniors with chronic stress frequently focus on their symptoms. For example, some adults may be prescribed medication, while others may get new diet and activity plans emphasizing stress relief. Active relaxation techniques are also recommended as a successful stress-reduction method.
What Is Active Relaxation?
Active relaxation incorporates mind-body practices focusing on movement and purposeful use of your ideas and intellect to unwind from stress. The term “active relaxation” describes alternative medical procedures that enhance general health.
Active relaxation works to reduce activity in the sympathetic nervous system. This system is associated with increased arousal, stimulation of bodily systems, and stress. The main benefits of active relaxation techniques include:
- Reduced stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Enhanced mood
- Controlled breathing and heart rate
- Reduced muscle tension
Active Relaxation Activities that Help Seniors Reduce Stress
Going on a walk and leaving the phone at home is an excellent way for you or your loved ones to practice active relaxation.
One study published in 2021 reported that leisure walking at different intensity levels impacted the mental health and health perception of elderly family members. The result showed that adults with moderate to high levels of walking were associated with fewer depressive symptoms. Additionally, it stated how much they walked affected their mental health.
If your parents decide to start walking frequently, discuss the potential risks to their health with your doctor. To examine how their body responds to this activity, you can initially walk with them for a few days. Afterward, they can start walking alone or with their senior friends.
Ensure your elderly loved ones have a good warm-up before the walk. Remind them to do it slowly for the first ten minutes and pick up the pace later. After the walk, suggest they take a few minutes to cool down, letting their heart rate return to normal.
Do Arts and Crafts
Crafts and arts are perfect, quiet activities you can try doing with your seniors. These activities should be relatively simple for your parents to understand and not have small pieces/ details that can be easily dropped or skipped. Also, remember that their fingers may not be as nimble as yours, so you should be patient.
Here are some perfect craft and art ideas that your seniors may enjoy:
- Wrapping paper crafts
- Decorating objects such as mugs, bags, pots, statues, etc.
- Creating cards
Yoga benefits all ages’ physical and mental health, especially those in their elder years. Some people think that yoga is solely about physical fitness. However, yoga encompasses various self-discipline activities that affect mental health, including meditation, chanting, praying, slow deep breathing, etc.
Additionally, according to research, yoga therapy helps seniors sleep better. The stretching movements in yoga help promote deeper sleep and fewer sleep disturbances. Meanwhile, yoga breathing techniques can enhance respiratory health and improve sleep quality.
Here are some tips for seniors who are new to practicing yoga:
- Find an instructor who can offer simple and easy-to-do guidance.
- Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Listen to the body’s limits, and don’t rush into challenging poses.
- Use towels, straps, or blocks for more effortless practice.
Meditation is thought to be a simple-to-learn technique that helps improve mental and physical health, ease chronic pain, and reduce stress.
Although calming the mind in meditation seems delightfully refreshing, it might be difficult for seniors with overactive thoughts to truly enter a meditative state. If your parents are overthinkers, the following tips may be able to help:
- Create a regular schedule by deciding on a specific time of day to practice mindfulness.
- Consider curating a space that is calm, candle-lit, fragrant, and filled with peaceful music.
- Start by breathing deeply and slowly, as this is a powerful technique for calming the mind.
- Don’t stress too much over your thoughts getting lost. Simply extend a little grace to yourself, as criticizing oneself will not promote meditation.
Guided imagery is the practice of using visualization to help the body relax. In other words, your seniors will envision the sights and sounds of a tranquil environment when they close their eyes.
Guided imagery allows your loved ones to manage negative emotions. For example, they can visualize a sight of a tropical beach, the warm sun, and the soothing sounds of the waves. However, any suitable imagined scene will work, and they can use that setting to unwind their negative thoughts.
In addition to the calm, peaceful settings, some people visualize positive outcomes in various situations. In short, guided imagery lets your parents visualize the ideal result before confronting a crisis.
The 12 Oaks Family of Active Communities
Aging is strongly linked with various mental and physical health threats. However, engagement in active relaxation is a beneficial pursuit that results in happiness and life satisfaction among seniors.
Our 12 Oaks-managed senior living communities offer a range of relaxation activities that promote your elderly family members’ health. Our senior living professionals can assess your elder relatives’ health conditions to deliver the best care. Also, our team creates the appropriate daily exercise routine for each resident. Our members work diligently to create a family-like atmosphere where your parents can feel comfortable and happy.
If you have questions about reducing stress in older adults or any conditions discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for questions or to schedule a personalized tour.
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