Good Stress, Bad Stress, and Aging

By Dave and Donna Abrams

April is National Stress Awareness Month. This got us to thinking: What causes seniors like us to experience stress? When can stress be good and when can stress be bad? 

According to Wikipedia, the term for good stress is “eustress.” It is the positive cognitive response to what we are experiencing that brings fulfillment and makes us happy. When a task is challenging, we feel satisfied by a job well done. What are things you’ve accomplished that may have been stressful, but made
you happy?

Here are a few thoughts for starters:

Was there something that needed fixing and you did it yourself? It may have been complicated and you probably worried about doing it right. However, you felt a sense of accomplishment when you fixed it. Yay!

Did you ever decide to make something you had never made before, perhaps a project around the house or a new recipe? Remember worrying about how or if it would turn out okay? Didn’t it make you feel good when you received compliments on the great job you did?

There is also a term for negative stress. This is called “distress” and it’s a complicating factor in our lives. It can make our physical, emotional or mental condition worse. According to Web MD, these ten health problems can be negatively impacted by stress: heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression and anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, Alzheimer’s disease, accelerated aging and premature death.

Sometimes, a persistent emotional or physical situation can cause distress in our lives. Dealing with a physical problem, the loss of a loved one, and health problems associated with aging can slow us down, making it difficult to do what we used to do easily. This is when it gets harder to deal with stress.

Often family members who want to help can inadvertently stress us out. They become caregivers and while it may be stressful, they feel good about helping and we feel good about having people that love us. Sometimes, however, we need more help than a family member can provide. This is the time for families to call on professionals to help deal with the issues causing stress. Home care agencies can provide companion care such as meal preparation, light housework, conversation, transportation and personal care, like dressing, bathing, hygiene, medication reminders and more. Having a helping hand eases the stress of busy families and aging seniors. Having additional help around the house relieves caregivers of some of the stress and can allow a senior to live a more satisfying life in their own home.

There are many who care and who can help. Seniors don’t have to feel distressed. They only have to ask for help.

Dave and Donna Abrams are owners of ComForCare Home Care. For more information, call 336-759-7207 or visit


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