Stress can affect seniors for a variety of reasons, but keeping it to a minimum helps prevent serious health conditions. Seniors are encouraged to exercise regularly to promote their health, and reducing stress levels is just one of the ways participating in physical activity can make a difference. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care in Anchorage, has put together a list of specific ways exercise can help your elderly loved one manage stress.
1. Reverses Damage to the Brain Caused by Stress
Stressful experiences like losing a loved one or being diagnosed with an illness can atrophy the brain. This is particularly true of the part of the brain known as the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory. Over time, damage to the brain can result in memory loss. Aerobic exercise can cause the hippocampus to grow and reverse this damage, which can result in your loved one having increased cognitive function.
2. Releases Endorphins That Calm and Relax
Endorphins are neurotransmitters the brain releases when stress or pain is present. One of the main functions of endorphins is reducing the body’s perception of pain and stress. Exercise causes endorphins to be released, which can help your loved one relax and reduce the physical pain that can occur during times of stress. Many researchers believe exercise forces the entire body to communicate better. For example, the cardiovascular system must closely communicate with the renal system to process blood and oxygen. This increase in communication is likely responsible for the endorphin release that reduces physical and mental stress.
3. Promotes the Production of Neurohormones
Norepinephrine is a neurohormone the body produces during exercise. It has been found to increase cognitive function, elevate mood, and increase the ability to learn new things. Norepinephrine is the reason why some researchers believe exercise actually makes people smarter. Your loved one may especially benefit from the elevation in mood because it can help reduce his or her stress.
4. Reduces Levels of Cortisol
Cortisol is a hormone released by the body during stressful events. Too much cortisol can lead to a weak immune system, excess weight gain, and the breaking down of muscle, bones, and tissue. Your loved one may be more prone to illness due to high levels of cortisol, but exercise can combat this, returning the cortisol to its proper level.
If your loved one needs helps with exercise or other strategies to reduce stress, consider hiring an Anchorage live-in home caregiver. At Home Care Assistance, the services our caregivers provide, which include assistance with bathing, cooking, and cleaning, can help take some of the stress away from seniors who have difficulty handling certain daily tasks. For more information on our part-time and 24-hour elderly care services, call an experienced Care Manager at (907) 770-0907 to schedule a complimentary consultation.