Written by featured writer Sally Perkins
Our children become us. We become our parents. Our parents become grandparents. The continuity and circularity of life is something that we can all observe, and while it sometimes provides comfort, we cannot help but ask where does it lead?
The quintessential picture of a peaceful retirement in which we can sit back, enjoy all that we have achieved and take pleasure in a slower pace of life as the next generation takes the reins sounds ideal, but the reality can be completely different. The 21st century is a complicated and stressful time to be a retiree. Today’s seniors have more to worry about in terms of finance, healthcare and changing family dynamics.
As the new, responsible generation, it falls to us to ensure the senior members of our families and communities receive the support they are owed. And the only way to do that is to see the signs that all is not well.
Signs of senior stress
The problem is that as we get older we do not get any better at asking for help. If you have elderly relatives, they still feel that they need to protect and support you. It falls to you and nobody else to make this a two way street.
Common signs of stress include the following:
- Isolation, and a reluctance to get involved in social activities that they used to enjoy – whether it is attending a club or simply having a chat over the phone.
- Mood swings, sadness, irritability or signs of depression.
- Deteriorating concentration or forgetfulness.
- Different eating habits – either loss of appetite or binge eating on snacks and unhealthy food.
- Chronic health problems, including aches and pains.
- Sleep problems – either problems sleeping or sleeping longer than usual, or dozing off during the day.
What can you do?
There are a variety of measures you can take to help your loved ones live a stress-free life, from dietary considerations to healthy exercise such as yoga. However, be careful that you are not just trying to ease the symptoms instead of the cause.
It is essential to find out what has triggered the stress in the first place. In some cases, it is something as tangible as concerns over a medical, financial or family problem. Oftentimes, though, the reasons behind feelings of melancholy and worry are far more difficult to pin down.
The important thing is to get your loved ones talking, draw them out and provide the love and support they need. If they are still reluctant, remind them of this – we will all be in their shoes one day.
~ Sally Perkins