As boomers retire from their jobs at unprecedented rates in the U.S., you’d think they’d be spending their free time with friends, lingering over the morning newspaper and coffee or taking January vacations in a warm place. But many seniors are finding themselves in a predicament that few anticipate in retirement: parenting for a second time. Census reports indicate that 2.7 million grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren. Their added duties may be fulfilling, but they may be stressful, too.
In fact, many things can trigger stress among retired adults — paying bills on a fixed income, failing health, caring for ill parents or spouses, or even grandparenting. Excessive stress can lead to serious health problems.
“When stressed, the body releases substances such as cortisol and adrenaline that affect every organ and can cause muscle tension, insulin secretion and increased heart rate,” said Arthur Hayward, M.D., a geriatrician and the clinical lead physician for elder care with Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute.
“You can’t avoid stress, but managing it can help preserve your health and well-being,” Dr. Hayward added. He recommends identifying and understanding the cause of your stress and finding ways to relieve it, such as these eight tips:
- Pace yourself. Don’t take on too much. Be aware of your limitations.
- Set realistic goals and expectations, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Plan time for yourself. Recharge your batteries.
- Exercise and eat a balanced diet. Get plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Try relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
- Get enough sleep. If you have problems sleeping, talk to your doctor. Drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol can affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
- Talk with a loved one or write in a journal.
- Stay positive. Positive thoughts can make a difference, such as “I am hopeful” or “Things will be better.”
For more information, go tokp.org/healthyaging. For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk to your physician.