Seniors: How Much Stress Can You Take?

Nov 15th, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

The mounting accumulation of stress in our lives and world begs the question: how much stress can we take?  Many of us senior citizens walk around with a rather exaggerated accumulation of stress, which comes from all kinds of sources.  Among these are family issues, health concerns, financial woes, medical needs and domestic concerns.  The list is longer, but you get the idea.  Adjusting to these circumstances requires emotional stamina, mental acuity, diplomatic skill, economic wisdom, and psychological sensitivities.  Lacking these means the stress for seniors is greater and the need for counsel likely. Living with stress is like living with an illness.  It needs to be treated.

There are a variety of stress inducers which can be managed.  However, management suggests willingness and willingness requires action.  Permitting invasions of stress from the same sources day after day is like repeating the same behaviors over and over in hopes of relief.  It won’t happen.  One must commit to ridding oneself of the causal factors contributing to and aggravating the stress.

For example, let’s assume that you and another person are in conflict with one another over an episode which took place some time ago.  Avoiding that person is a means of management.  However, in the subconscious that itch doesn’t seem to go away.  Eventually, what will be required is the initiative of one or the other party in providing the opportunity for conversation, reconciliation and forgiveness.  Unless one of you moves, nothing will happen.  The sore will continue to fester and may become infected so that it grows worse.  For the sake of both of you, one will need to decide in favor of a proactive cure.

With the willingness of one and the cooperation of the other, the episode will have been confronted and the stress relieved.  Otherwise, it will nag until one or both moves away and the issue is no longer day to day, but may only come up on rare occasions.   

The goal in such situations is:  reconciliation, forgiveness and moving on.  It is much like having a meal which creates stomach distress and is not overcome until you regurgitate.  A not so pleasant analogy, but to the point. 

Other forms of stress require other methods and strategies for dealing with them.  Financial worries are among the more difficult.  This one may take more time and interventions than can be quickly listed.  Each situation is different.  What is the nature of the financial need?  How much time do you have before it needs to be completely addressed? Is there intermediate help available which will help you with the problem?  Can you chip away at the problem, so that it lacks day to day fretting on your part?

A horse of a different color is family and domestic issues. Because of all the emotional dynamics caught up in this situation, history and heartache will need to be surmounted in order to come to the real issue at hand.  In the meantime, if all parties involved are living in close proximity, it will be difficult to escape daily reminders of the conflict.  It will also be more likely that the slightest infraction will prompt words that will further ignite the fires of division. Keeping in mind and hoping all can share in the primary goal of “reconciliation,” this stress stimulator can, over time, be removed from its influence.  It will take time, patience, readiness for engagement, and commitment to a positive outcome.  Again, someone will need to be the initiator and others will need to practice tact and sensitivity to contribute to a problem solving and conflict reducing environment.  Remember the goal: reconciliation, and the outcome:  the reduction or removal of stress.

Finally, a stress contributor can be health and medical needs.  This one benefits from the awareness and support of other parties observing the need for medical attention and finding a way to approach it with the person so affected.  Of course, one’s own personal awareness and readiness to deal with such matters will help enormously.  Those who ignore or avoid their health issues are typically quite stubborn  and may require the gentle persuasion of others encouraging at least a preliminary check up.  Keeping the threat level low is helpful.  No one wants to confront or be confronted by news of a serious nature. 

Aiding the person by heading off the fears and stresses that may be present in the mind of the person who needs attention will be a useful strategy.  To do that, information is helpful, understanding the nature of what may be happening can reduce anxiety.  Avoiding the uncertaintyof major life threatening and debilitating conditions will enable the individual to face whatever is happening in a calmer more self assured manner. 

Setting an appointment within a reasonable amount of time to head off too much worry and fret is essential.  Getting to that appointment with questions prepared, a frame of mind that is calm and a support system of one or more persons will contribute of comfort on the part of the patient. 

Finally, in any of these issues the need for a clear and open mind to get at resolution and satisfaction that you are managing stress related to whatever issue or problem, potential or real, is the ultimate goal.  Keeping that motivation at the forefront will reduce stress and enable your own strengths and abilities to be called upon to help get through what lies ahead.



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