Seniors Across the World Suffering from Financial Stress

The conventionally accepted image of ageing is that of a graceful decline into seniority, where a person comes to realize the important things in life and lends less value to so-called ‘frivolous’ or ‘trivial’ concerns like money. There is something reassuring in this picture for most younger and middle aged people – the idea that one day the things that concern them daily will no longer seem important and they will have the clarity to reassess their priorities and focus on the things that really matter.

Comforting though this may be, however, it is not backed up by evidence. Although seniors do report less stress per capita than younger individuals, they still feel significant pressure in certain regards, especially financial. The sad reality is that more and more seniors are dealing with stress later in life, and all over the world the elderly are being forced to put the idealized versions of their golden years on hold to deal with lingering stressors.

Factors causing stress in seniors

No matter where they live on the planet, the same factors influence elderly people and heighten the stress they feel related to their financial situations, making it hard for them to cope in their daily lives. Many will have failing health and have medical bills, as well as having to pay for home help and other such additional costs that they would not have incurred previously. Seniors with families may feel the need to offer financial support to their children and grandchildren, or to leave some kind of inheritance. These, coupled with their often failing physical condition and other medical ailments, can lead to acute anxiety and stress in elderly people. In fact 69% of American seniors list the economy as a major stress inducing factor – making it a more significant stimulus than their personal health.

A global problem

This is far from simply being an American issue. The same patterns can be observed all over the world. Japan has a serious burgeoning crisis with senior poverty and concordant stress, with some seniors resorting to crime and imprisonment to avoid living in destitution. South Korea, the US, the UK, and Australia all have senior poverty rates above the OECD average of approximately 12%. No matter where you are in the world, it seems, there is no escaping this problem.

Coping mechanisms

It is vital that people close to seniors pay attention to their behaviour and note any changes in mood or habits. Humour can be a wonderful tool to combat stress at old age, as can simple conversation and reassurance. Exercise will allow older people to get a greater feeling of control over their lives and this independence will help reduce anxiety during stressful situations. Through vigilance and proactive prevention, this problem can be controlled and seniors can have enjoy their twilight years in happiness and comfort.

By Emma Mills

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