July 5th, 2017 •
Comments Off on Adrenal Fatigue in Seniors: The What, Where and Why?
Whether it is due to finances, family matters or our health, we all have our own personal reasons for experiencing stress. While many of us overlook these stressors as an inevitable part of growing older, recent research shows that stress may be more dangerous than we thought.
Psychologist Dr. Vivian Diller, Ph.D. explains that chronic stress can actually cause long-term biological changes in the body. “It’s very possible that if you have a life filled with that constant stress, little by little the body is breaking down.” This kind of rapid physical deterioration due to stress can significantly accelerate the aging process and can lead to other age-related conditions like heart disease and adrenal fatigue.
James L. Wilson, an alternative medicine specialist, first introduced the concept of Adrenal Fatigue to the world in his 1998 book entitled “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.” Stress has become a very common occurrence in everyday life. Children experience stress at school and by simply ‘growing up’. Adults suffer from stress due to financial pressure, raising children and sustaining a family. The various effects of stress can cause additional worry by aggravating existing health conditions, creating a troublesome vicious circle. Chronic stress is bound to put your health at risk and, together with other factors, can lead to Adrenal Fatigue.
What Are The Symptoms Of Adrenal Fatigue in Seniors?
Family members and caregivers of seniors must be aware of how Adrenal Fatigue relates to their loved ones. Knowing what the signs are and spotting them early on can go a long way in helping seniors recognize stress factors and allow them to take the necessary steps to lessen the effects.
It must be noted that it is much harder to diagnose AF in seniors as many of the symptoms can generally be associated with a number of underlying medical conditions that the elderly are prone to.
The following are all signs and symptoms that you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue:
- Mild depression or anxiety
- A multitude of food and/or inhalant allergies
- Persistent lethargy
- Increased effort required to perform daily tasks
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Dry and thin skin (which is also a natural sign of aging when the layer of fat beneath the skin dissipates)
- Low blood sugar
- Decrease in body temperature
- Unexplained hair loss
- Alternating constipation and diarrhea
Our ability to handle stress whether it be physical or emotional, is the foundation to human survival. Our body has a complete set of stress modulation systems in place, with the control center being the adrenal glands. When these glands become dysfunctional, our body’s ability to handle stress and fight infections is compromised.
Causes of Adrenal Fatigue in the Elderly
Tension in older adults often has unique contributing factors such as the loss of a spouse or friend. Living alone with minimal social contact can increase the sense of isolation. In those suffering from physical or medical limitations, everyday tasks such as getting dressed can be stress inducing. In addition to the psychological causes, medical disorders that are common in seniors can be directly responsible for the anxiety they feel. These include heart disease, neurologic illness, thyroid and other hormonal problems.
Many seniors suffer from deficiencies of essential nutrients like Vitamin B, Vitamins A, C and E, Magnesium, Zinc and other trace elements. When under stress, the need for nutrients is even larger. Refined carbohydrates are also known to stress the adrenals while diets low in protein can also create deficiencies. The standard American Diet is regretfully both high in processed carbs and sugar and lower in quality fats and protein as well as often lacking in micronutrients.
Many seniors suffer from nutritional deficiencies for the simple reason that most older adults do not eat a healthy diet each day. A variety of age-related changes may cause seniors to eat less (i.e., satiety with less food) due to the presence of more hormones that decrease appetite and fewer neurotransmitters that stimulate their appetite.
Toxic chemicals can play a huge role in adrenal fatigue. Everyone, including the elderly, is exposed to thousands of chemicals in the air, water and food. Other sources of harmful chemicals may include dental and hygiene products such as toothpaste, lotions and shampoos. Because of budget constraints seniors don’t always have a lot of options when it comes to making purchasing decisions. They simply buy what they can afford, which is unfortunately often sub-standard and potentially harmful products.
A healthy body has the ability to eliminate many toxins on a daily basis, however, as adrenal weakness develops, this ability decreases drastically. This produces a vicious cycle in which weaker adrenals weakens the elimination of all poisons, which then further weakens the adrenals.
Seniors are generally more susceptible to chronic infections due to an aging immune system. These chronic infections can originate in infected teeth or gums, though they can be located anywhere in the body where they contribute greatly to the toxic load of the body. Infections such as these also cause inflammation and stress that must be neutralized using adrenal hormones such as cortisol and cortisone.
Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue in Seniors
Stressful situations are never entirely avoidable. It is important to remember that while you cannot control all situations you are able to control your reaction to them. Admitting that you are stressed and deciding how you can manage it are the first steps to relieving it and getting back to enjoying your life.
Activities such as walking, yoga and other activities suitable for seniors are great at relieving tension. Many seniors also enjoy the benefits of tai chi, a gentle form of martial arts. Not all seniors are able to participate in physical activities but this is no reason for despair. There are a variety of non-physical activities offering the same benefits. Eating a well-balanced diet and getting enough sleep also goes a long way towards keeping stress at bay.
The fact that stress is a part of everyday life does not mean that overwhelming stress is a burden seniors have to carry all alone. With help, seniors can combat stress and its negative effects and live a happy and productive life.
About the author
Sally Phillips is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.