Our parents are survivors. They’ve seen war, they’ve endured the loss of loved ones, and many suffer from social isolation. That can leave anyone with stress and grief. And one danger of stress is overeating.

Everyone is at risk for stress eating. According to HarvardHealth.edu, a quarter of Americans rate their stress at eight on a ten-point scale. This means that both caregivers, and the parents or grandparents they care for, are all at risk for stress eating. However, stress eating can be even more damaging to people over 65 than it is for the rest of us.

Perils Of Stress Eating

Stress eating can lead to excess body fat and even obesity. This excess fat can, in turn, lead to heart disease, and a disincentive to exercise. Loss of mobility and weight gain can be cyclical. The more weight one gains, the harder it is to move dynamically. That leads to more weight gain.

Stress eating among the elderly can also aggravate diabetes. Diabetes patients are exhorted to maintain a healthy weight and also to avoid sugary foods.


What Causes Stress Eating?

Why do some people turn to the Little Debbies when they’re stressed while other people go to Facebook? The answer is not as simple as you might think.

Science has found that some people produce more cortisol, a stress hormone when they get triggered. More cortisol gives these folks cravings for sugar and fat. Higher rates of insulin in the bloodstream can also trigger stress eating.

One study suggests that women are more likely to binge on food when stressed and that men are more likely to binge on alcoholic beverages. This does not mean, however, that either recourse is better than the other. Excessive alcohol consumption can also pack on pounds while damaging the liver at a faster rate than overeating.

What You Can Do

Poor access to transportation can make it harder for the elderly to access the fresh vegetables and fruit that they should be eating in preference to junk foods. Home care, however, can alleviate that problem by providing transportation to the grocery store or farmer’s markets. Home care specialists also know how to shop for the right foods and deliver them to the home of someone over 65.

Both meditation and exercise have been shown to combat stress and stress eating. And the even better news is that tai chi and yoga combine the two. Encourage your loved one to take an in-person or online class in one of these therapeutic activities. Maybe take an online class with your loved one.

Also, make sure that you and your parents and grandparents are getting enough sleep. Sleep mends the wounds of stress, but not getting enough makes stress worse. Again, home care for the elderly can help address sleep loss. Home care workers can observe and report things that are interfering with your loved one’s sleep, such as lit up appliances or a ringing telephone.

In conclusion, stress is a dangerous condition that way too many people are living with. However, you can protect your loved one from the worst of these dangers by making sure that she sleeps well, gets enough exercise, and has the right foods in the house. Consider hiring a home care individual or agency to ensure that your loved one has access to all the best resources for fighting stress.


If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Health Care in River Edge, NJ, please contact the caring staff at At Home Companions today at (201) 525-0607.