How Age Can Affect How We Handle Stress

Print icon

Stress is like taxes and death – one of life’s certainties — but as we age, the types of stress we face and our ability to handle it changes, and not always for the better.

“Contributors to stress and anxiety vary with age,” says Peter Lucchio, a clinical psychologist who works with athletes at the Hartford HealthCare Bone & Joint Institute’s Center for Musculoskeletal Health at Hartford Hospital.  “In a person’s youth, they might experience anxiety related to finding a profession, whereas older adults might experience anxiety related to medical issues and/or mortality.”

The way our bodies naturally protect us against stress also break down gradually with age, and it becomes increasingly important that we find ways to reduce and manage stress.

Lucchio says it’s not that older people are necessarily more stressed or anxious, but that age can impact resilience by changing one’s social network and connectedness to others. These, he says, are both important ways to manage stress.

Dr. Peter Lucchio, PsyD

Physically, stress can take its toll on the body by causing wounds to heal slower and colds to linger longer. Emotionally, older brains don’t regulate stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline as efficiently. When the level of these hormones gets too high, it’s linked to a host of health problems from high blood pressure to a weakened immune system. It can actually speed up the aging process, too.

The easiest gauge that stress is becoming too difficult to manage, Lucchio says, is when it begins to impact one’s day-to-day functioning.

Some signs may include:

  • You’re always sick and can’t get over it.
  • You always have a headache.
  • You have trouble concentrating.
  • You are having trouble remembering things.
  • Your back and/or neck always bother you.
  • You’re always tired but never seem to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Your outlook is always negative.
  • You suffer from constant mood swings.

To help tame the stress, Lucchio suggests speaking to a primary care provider about the problem. The provider may offer a referral to a behavioral health specialist. Other potential solutions include:

  • Practice deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
  • Stay connected to family and friends.
  • Maintain a positive attitude about life in general.
  • Exercise (walks, bike rides, water aerobics).
  • Eat a healthy diet.

Looking for a primary care provider, visit here. If you need help with stress, learn more about the Institute of Living by clicking here.

 

 

 


What's New

Cancer/Yoga

A Healthier You: Upcoming Classes, Events in February

Got a bad  case of cabin fever? Snap out of it with upcoming classes on Medicare Advantage, surgical weight loss, youth mental health first aid and car-seat safety for mothers-to-be. That’s only a sample. Find a support  group that might help you, too. For a complete schedule of classes and...

Holiday Stress

Don’t Let Stress and Depression Interrupt Your Holidays

By Nicholas Arsenault Transitional Care Nurse, Hartford HealthCare at Home For many, the holidays are a time of togetherness, giving and being around those we love and cherish the most. But sometimes the holidays can bring about feelings that limit how much you enjoy this time of year. Stress and...


State, Hartford HealthCare Start Home-Safety Program for Seniors

Hartford HealthCare has joined forces with the Connecticut Department of Social Services’ Protective Services for the Elderly Program (PSE) and Foodshare to create a home-safety initiative for Connecticut seniors. The goal? To ensure at-risk seniors are safe and receive needed services, while also addressing food insecurity. This collaboration allows the...

Mature man in health class

A Healthier You: Upcoming Classes, Events in January

Don’t slow down, just because winter’s coming. Learn about joint replacement, art therapy, grief self-care and Medicare 101. That’s only a sample. Find a support  group that might help you, too. For a complete schedule of the rest of this month and January, click here

Diabetes

Free 12-Week Diabetes Prevention Program Includes YMCA Membership

With more than 1 million people diagnosed annually with Type 2 diabetes, a program sponsored by Hartford HealthCare and the Southington Community YMCA has proved successful in helping individuals manage their condition – before they get diabetes. Participants in the free 12-week Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Program have reported reduced...

Palliative vs. Hospice Care

What’s the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and the team from Hartford HealthCare at Home wants to help those in need of these services make the right decisions during what is a critical time for them and their loved ones. Hospice and palliative care offer compassionate care to patients...