Stress is a normal physical reaction to situations where we have no control. It can also be caused by feelings of vulnerability, nervousness or frustration. It is a natural part of life and something most people will experience at one point or another. However, many elderly are experiencing stress as direct consequence of age and the aging process. With increased age, our physiques are destined to endure a natural and steady decline, and we will one day discover that neither our bodies, nor our brain, are what they used to be. As a psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, or home caregiver for someone that suffers from geriatric mental health issues, one of your primary duties is to help him or her cope with the situation and maintain a positive attitude.
The Mess of Stress
Our choices are continuously decreasing and our options are becoming increasingly more limited at this stage. As a result, many elderly suffer from feelings of vulnerability and frustration, which can cause stress that is absolutely relentless. Adding sickness and disease to the mix, along with a struggling financial position and a feeling of isolation and loneliness, and you have a situation that can be difficult for anyone to deal with.
When you are stressed, your autonomic nervous system will activate a 'fight or flight' reaction in an attempt to help you survive. When the danger has passed, your heartbeat will once again decrease and your blood vessels relax. Due to the physical effects of prolonged and chronic stress, many researchers believe it is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, as well as many other health issues.
Fake it to Make It
Your mind and body are intimately connected and every interaction has the potential to have serious consequences. That said, it is a two-way street and the changes cause ripple effects in both directions. If you are feeling anxious or depressed and are not in the mood for smiling, smile anyway. You will discover that the simple act of consciously trying to improve your attitude will create a psychological modification that is indistinguishable from the authentic feeling. By faking a smile for a while, you will decrease your anxiety and eventually produce a smile that is effortless. In the same spirit, it is possible to increase quality of life for the elderly suffering from stress. Through the power of a positive attitude, you are actively encouraging them to pursue a long-lasting improvement of their subjective wellbeing.