The Impact of Stress on Alzheimer’s Symptoms

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When people feel stressed out or anxious, they often experience physical symptoms. Some seniors experience tremors in stressful situations, while others face difficulty breathing. In the case of older adults with Alzheimer’s, stress can intensify the cognitive impact of the disease.  

Stress Ages the Brain 

A team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined over a thousand people who had experienced high-stress situations in their lifetimes. These situations ranged from getting a divorce to losing a job. The researchers tested many areas of memory and concluded that stressful events have a negative impact on cognitive abilities. For subjects who had lived exceptionally stressful lives, researchers found that stress aged their brains by three years or more. While the researchers didn’t conclude whether or not stress could lead to Alzheimer’s disease, certain physical aspects of stress, like increased inflammation, can increase the risk. 

Older adults with Alzheimer’s disease can benefit from professional home care. If your senior loved one needs professional in-home care in Pembroke Pines, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a trusted provider of respite and 24-hour care, and we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care for seniors.

The Link Between Stress and Alzheimer’s Disease

In tense situations, the body produces stress hormones. A study conducted at the University of California, Irvine suggests these stress hormones can hasten the formation of Alzheimer’s-related brain lesions. In the study, when genetically modified mice were injected with stress hormones for just seven days, the levels of beta-amyloid in their brains increased by 60 percent. The study shows how quickly stress can affect the brain. 

The Implications for Alzheimer’s Treatment 

Because of the impact of stress on the brain, seniors with Alzheimer’s should try to avoid medications that contain glucocorticoids. These medications are often prescribed for inflammatory conditions, and they mimic the stress hormone. Common glucocorticoids include hydrocortisone and prednisone. When prescribed to seniors who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, these drugs may increase the rate of cognitive decline. Caregivers should be mindful of the medications prescribed to their senior loved ones. 

Caring for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease can be a challenging task. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Pembroke Pines, FL, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Other Methods of Stress Management 

Because of the link between stress and cognitive decline, caregivers should try to implement stress management techniques to help their loved ones prevent anxiety. Be cognizant of your loved one’s triggers. If specific things cause him or her stress, like alterations to the daily schedule or trips to the pharmacy, try to avoid them whenever possible. You should also try to establish a relaxing environment. Perhaps turn your loved one’s bedroom into a soothing, stress-free zone where he or she can relax. Make sure the room is not filled with clutter, and equip it with calming items like a favorite photograph or a stuffed toy. Music can also be an effective way to mitigate stress.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior care Pembroke Pines, FL, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. To learn about our premier in-home care options, call one of our professional Care Managers at (954) 374-8273 today.