Stress Relief Tactics for the Elderly

By on March 7, 2017

Stress is one of the top causes of heart disease. It’s not easy to deal with, and it just gets more difficult as we get older. However, not all stress is bad or difficult. There is a difference between good stress and bad stress.

Stress can be a good thing; it can help you meet daily challenges, stay organized, and generally stay on top of tasks. However, too much stress can cause high anxiety, illness, heart issues, teeth grinding, etc. It’s good to be able to differentiate between the two so you can be aware when you have bad or high stress and eliminate it.

This is especially important for seniors as stress can affect this group quite profoundly. Here is a comprehensive account of stress relief tactics for elderly people.

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Relaxation is one of the best allies for elderly people as they can allocate more time to it than younger individuals. However, learning to relax is not as easy as it sounds. Time for most elderly people is not a real problem, but the issue is how to relax.

In order to tackle stress, you have to plan to relax. Before starting, decide which place in the home will be the most conducive to relaxation. Make that place as environmentally friendly as an opportunity will allow. 

You may want to dim the lights and switch off all distracting devices during this time. Some elderly people find soft, gentle music playing in the background soothing while others may find it a distraction.

Find a place to lie either on the floor or on a bed. Ensure that you are wearing loose-fitting clothing and as you lie down to take stock of any physical tensions that exist and ease yourself into a comfortable position. Also, try making a delicious, healthy juice drink.

Starting with the lower limbs, commence a series of tension and relaxation, progressing through all the muscle groups until all of the body feels relaxed. Notice the areas where new tensions arise and relax those areas.


Aquarium therapy is the application of aquariums to provide potential health benefits. Among the top noted benefits of contemplating fish in tanks is a notable reduction in the levels of stress and anxiety. This phenomenon was tested in a 2004 study conducted by Purdue.

It revealed that contemplation on fish in an aquarium significantly reduced the anxiety levels of elderly patients awaiting treatment. Several other studies had the same results. Most of the subjects attributed this observation to the calming and soothing effects of the visual and auditory aspects of fish tanks.

As such, it will prove beneficial to invest in a small aquarium placed where you spend your relaxation time. Perhaps it evokes a similar effect as one feels when gazing into the ocean.


Sufficient brain oxygenation is vital for its optimum functions including combating stress. This is especially important for senior citizens as breathing often becomes labored as they age.

Fortunately, there is a myriad of breathing exercises that the elderly can engage in. Breathing exercises can be done alongside mild physical exercises to compound their effect on stress.

The simplest of course is complete breathing. It can be done sitting or standing. Start by taking a deep breath in, expanding the lungs to capacity, and tightening the lung muscles. Hold this breath for several seconds then slowly exhale and let the tensions go. Repeat this exercise for several minutes.

Another effective breathing exercise for the elderly is diaphragmatic breathing. As you lie on your back, place one hand on your stomach and the other slightly below (directly over your navel).

To correctly execute this technique, the hand over your navel should rise before the hand on your stomach. Remember to breathe in, hold for a moment then exhale.


Introspection is a detailed inward reflection on your daily living. It can reveal the causes of the stress in the first place and help combat it. As an elderly person, you can review the present and past and how they impact the stress levels in your life.

Some of the stressors may be very obvious; on the other hand, you may need to engage in a wide-ranging but healthy introspection to fully identify your needs and to find avenues for change to a slower-paced life. It is through introspection that you can keep a balance in your physical, mental, and spiritual life.

With this kind of perspective installed, remind yourself daily that even with the best will in the world, life is always subject to change and has incompleteness built into it. Introspection will teach you how to listen to your own mind, body, and spirit.

A tense hurting body has something to say about what is going on inside. The mind also tells us when we have overloaded our physical capabilities.

There are many other tactics that elderly people can employ to tackle stress including getting quality sleep, taking nature walks, adopting healthier diets, playing music, maintaining social interactions, prayer, and even volunteering.

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Stress Relief Tactics for the Elderly