How Diagnosis of Chronic Conditions Can Stress Elderly Relatives
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How Diagnosis of Chronic Conditions Can Stress Elderly Relatives

Chronic illnesses require ongoing care and often impact the day-to-day functioning of those affected in lasting ways. When a senior relative is diagnosed with a chronic condition, the entire family can be overwhelmed by stress. Understanding how to handle the situation when your senior is dealing with a chronic illness can help them, and your family, adjust.

What is a Chronic Condition? 

Chronic illnesses or conditions are any health condition that lasts more than three months. These conditions include Diabetes, Asthma, Heart Disease, and COPD. It also includes Cancer and more common conditions such as Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. 

Chronic illnesses often have a financial burden, as care and medications are expensive. Depending on the diagnosis, elderly relatives may need to relocate, either closer to relatives or into an assisted living facility. Also, due to the chronic nature of these illnesses, senior loved ones may feel a sense of loss over their independence. They may not have enough energy for activities such as gardening or trips out of the house.

What Signs of Stress Should Caregivers Watch For?

Elderly individuals may experience physical symptoms of stress, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Digestive issues
  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty sleeping

Mental and emotional signs can include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

Additionally, seniors battling chronic conditions often isolate themselves from family members and friends they were once close to.

How to Manage Stress From Chronic Conditions in Seniors

Managing stress can be a challenge for anyone. It can be even more challenging for seniors managing chronic health conditions. Here are some tips for addressing stress from chronic illnesses in seniors:

  1. Seek support. Seniors should not hesitate to seek support from family, friends, or healthcare professionals. They can also join support groups for people with similar health conditions, where they can discuss their challenges and receive helpful tips.
  2. Practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can effectively manage stress. Seniors can practice these techniques independently or attend classes in their community.
  3. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall health. Seniors should consult their healthcare provider to determine a safe and appropriate exercise program.
  4. Maintain a healthy diet. A healthy diet can help seniors maintain their overall health and reduce stress. They should eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  5. Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is essential for managing stress. Seniors should aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night and establish a regular sleep routine.
  6. Stay engaged. Staying engaged in activities they enjoy can help seniors maintain a positive outlook and reduce stress. They can take up new hobbies, volunteer in their community, or spend time with family and friends.
  7. Stay informed. Seniors should learn about their health condition and be aware of any changes or new treatments that may be available. Knowledge about their condition can help them feel more in control and reduce stress.

Need More Support Managing the Stress of a Chronic Illness?

Understanding and managing the stress of a chronic illness is essential for providing elderly relatives with the highest quality of life. Seeking out additional help, like in-home senior care services, can help your family navigate these times of uncertainty. If you or an elderly relative living in San Jose, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, or Campbell require assistance caring for a loved one battling a chronic condition, contact Senior Helpers Greater San Jose to learn how we can help. Our in-home senior care services can be tailored to the needs of your senior loved one to give them, and your family, extra support. Call us today for a free in-home evaluation to learn more.