Common Health and Aging Stressors Seniors Face as They Grow Older

Senior Man holding face

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As people grow older, they can face some expected — and unexpected — side effects of aging. These challenges can truly increase stress on a senior. A variety of stressors can arise, such as retirement or being a caregiver for a spouse or even grandchildren. These, as well as worrying about mental and physical health, can take a toll on older adults. Below are common health and aging stressors seniors and their loved ones should be aware of as people grow older.

Caring for Loved Ones

Seniors may take care of a spouse or grandchildren which can cause stress for them as caregivers. As people grow older, they need to pay attention to their own needs. Unfortunately, if they are taking care of a loved one, they can be more focused on others instead of themselves. According to Aging Care, seniors who are caregivers have a 63 percent higher mortality rate than seniors of the same age who are not caregivers. For those who take on kinship care, seniors who raise grandchildren can lose leisure time, traveling opportunities, and other areas of independence in exchange for taking grandchildren to school and sports lessons. Stress from being a caregiver can take the forms of withdrawal, insomnia, and even anger.


As people work, many of them dream about the day they get to retire and travel the world with their spouse or buy the houseboat they’ve never been able to stop thinking about. Sadly, retirement is not always as happy-go-lucky as the TV commercials portray. According to Forbes, retirement is one of the most stressful events seniors go through because people retire or are forced to retire as other challenging events are happening, such as the death of a loved one or struggling with declining health. Retirement can also lead to financial concerns as well as relationship challenges, both of which can bring on even more stress. There may also be financial challenges with maintaining their home as well. And while many seniors find it beneficial to downsize, even then there’s the stress of moving and going through all their possessions.

Physical Challenges

As people grow older, it is natural for there to be physical decline, but that doesn’t mean people don’t stress about it. As physical challenges begin to increase, people can have a hard time adjusting. In turn, as seniors stress about their personal physical challenges, stress can spurn on new ones. Stress can result in heart problems, a lowered immune system, and even vision and hearing loss. This circular spiral can only make the concern for physical challenges increase. Some ways to battle stress to help stop this cycle can include practicing deep-breathing meditation and listening to music.

Mental Health Decline

A senior’s mental health is truly challenged as they grow older. This can result in diseases like dementia, but it can also include anxiety or depression. Anxiety and depression arise due to battling stress and constantly hearing and talking about the loss of loved ones and friends. Elderly depression can show itself in a variety of ways including consistent sadness, irritability, and changes in eating habits. Anxiety appears in ways such as uncontrollable worry, being tired around the clock, and very tense muscles.

As external stressors can increase mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression, seniors can find help by reaching out to a mental health professional. Medicare Part B can help cover the costs as it offers a range of mental health services including counseling and even a yearly depression screening.

Abuse From Caregivers or Family Members

As seniors face mental and physical decline, they often switch from being a caregiver to needing one. Unfortunately, many seniors face abuse from caregivers and even loved ones. It might just not be exploitation, as seen by the collection of assets and money, but seniors can be abused physically, sexually, and emotionally, as well as face neglect. Being abused — especially by someone the senior truly loves and trusts — can be deeply stressful and lead to anxiety and depression. If elder abuse is suspected, it’s important to reach out to the local adult protective services or law enforcement.

Growing older can be very stressful on people. Hitting a certain age once meant wisdom and living a life of relaxation through retirement, but as seniors face challenges and changes in their lives, it’s important to be aware of how this can impact them mentally and physically.

Post contributed by Kent Elliot at

Helping Your Senior Loved One Through the Financial Impact of Losing a Spouse

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Losing a loved one is one of the most stressful and traumatic experiences in life. Unfortunately, we have to handle all kinds of difficult life decisions while we’re dealing with grief. The funeral and burial plans must be arranged, outstanding bills need to be paid, and the estate must be distributed. If your senior loved one just lost a spouse, you can be a great help to them during this rocky period. Here are some essential financial matters that should be tackled sooner rather than later.

Funeral Cost Planning

Planning for funeral costs is one of the most immediate tasks that need to be handled after a death. According to Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage, funeral expenses cost an average of $7,000 to $9,000. Cemeteries often have a separate set of costs for other essentials like a plot and headstone. Unless your loved one’s spouse had some form of life or burial insurance, covering these costs can be very stressful. Help your loved one shop around to avoid overspending on expenses like the casket or transportation. Contact several different funeral homes and compare their prices for services or items, so you can keep the funeral affordable.

Collecting Insurance Benefits

If the spouse had an insurance policy, help your senior loved one collect the payout. Investopedia recommends contacting the life insurance company as soon as possible, so your loved one can use the death benefit to pay for the funeral and any other immediate expenses—most companies will pay within 30 to 60 days of your claim. Keep in mind that your loved one has payout options. They can choose to receive the benefit as a lump-sum payment or as regular installments over time. If they choose installments, they may have to pay tax on any interest.

Transferring Assets

According to FreeAdvice Legal, certain assets aren’t passed on by will. These include real estate, cars, investments, and bank accounts held by more than one person. Most of these assets should automatically pass to your loved one, but they will need to update the title into their name. Make sure your loved one transfers these shared assets by filing the appropriate documents to the right offices and agencies. If your loved one’s name is not on these assets, they will have to go through the probate process to gain ownership.

Paying Debts

If the deceased spouse held debt, your senior loved one may be concerned about their liability. The good news is that most debts are not collected from the surviving spouse. However, your senior loved one will be responsible for making payments on any accounts that their name is on. If your loved one did not hold any joint accounts with their spouse, they may be pressured by collection agents to make a few payments which could make them legally responsible for the debt. Make sure your loved one doesn’t make any payments without talking to a lawyer.

New Financial Responsibilities

Many senior couples become accustomed to certain roles in their marriage. If financial matters previously fell on your loved one’s spouse, they may feel overwhelmed and lost by their new responsibilities. Help your loved one organize their financial obligations. Track down all of their bills and consider setting up automatic payments with their bank. You can also help them come up with a new budget to ensure they can maintain their lifestyle without financial help from their spouse. Your loved one may be eager to pay off their mortgage, downsize, or make other large changes to their financial situation. According to U.S. News, overspending and rushing to make financial decisions are common mistakes that people make after losing a spouse. Encourage your loved one to take some time to think before committing to anything major.

Getting life back in order after a loss can take a long time, so be patient and gentle with your senior loved one. Avoid pressuring them to make quick financial decisions. Although you have the best of intentions, your loved one may need time to heal before they can gain a clear understanding of their financial situation.

Post contributed by Lucille Rosetti at The Bereaved