Latest reports from the Stress Management Society suggested that elders who are stressed can develop further health problems.
When the body is subjected to stress, hormones including adrenalin and cortisol are released, these are involved in the maintenance of blood pressure, metabolism and blood glucose concentrations. These hormones are primarily released as part of the body’s flight or fight response when a person is feeling threatened.
The flight of fight response was a term given by psychologist Walter Cannon to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system which initiates a response to stress to either fight or flee a threatening situation. In this reaction, catecholamine hormones including adrenalin, dopamine and hydrocortisone are subsequently released.
This latest report suggests that if an elderly person constantly perceives threats, their body is being subjected to constant activation of the sympathetic nervous system and stress responses which results in high levels of stress hormones in their bodies.
Continuously high levels of catecholamine and cortisol chemicals in the body can lead to problems with basic functions such as digestion and regeneration of cells. This can lead to a general decline in health and could cause a number of problems which are exasperated by the fact that generally the elderly are less able to cope and recover from illness than younger individuals.
The Stress Management Society has reportedly urged family members to ensure elderly relatives feel secure and relaxed in order that stress is kept to a minimum and potentially unnecessary health problems are avoided.
The report also notes the significance of an elderly relative maintaining a sense of independence and not feeling like a burden on care givers as this can lead to feelings of threat and inhibit stress management.