Many people think that stress is just that, stress. However, if your elderly loved one is stressed it can impact their brain. Short-term stress could make your elderly loved one feel frustrated, tense, and/or anxious. However, with time, stress can cause further emotional, mental, and physical health issues. In fact, research shows that longer-term stress can cause anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other issues. It can cause a negative impact on one’s brain, too.

Chemical Changes

If someone is stressed, there will be enzymes that start attacking the brain’s molecules. These molecules are needed for proper regulating of the synapses throughout the hippocampus. When someone is stressed, there aren’t as many connections made. This can cause someone to become irritable, angry, or a range of other negative feelings. They may also start to forget things, as well.

Shrinking the Brain

If someone is stressed for a long time, it could potentially shrink their brain. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. However, if your elderly loved one is stressed a lot, it could harm their memory, reduce their capacity to learn, cause self-control issues, and reduce other physiological functions. Stress can actually reduce the amount of grey matter throughout the brain.

Killing the Brain Cells

The brain creates neurons throughout the hippocampus all the time. This helps people to learn and retain new information. The hippocampus is responsible for emotion, memory, and learning. However, people who experience ongoing stress will have a halt in the new neurons that are created. The reduction in connections made can cause emotional distress, forgetfulness, and a decrease in the ability to communicate.

Triggering of the Threat Response

When someone has high levels of stress hormones in their brain, it raises the amount of activity throughout the amygdala. This part of the brain is responsible for emotional responses and motivation. This means that it controls the person’s fight or flight response. Having increased levels of stress causes the brain to think it is in a dangerous situation. This increases emotional reactions and can make your elderly loved one have a meltdown.

As you can see, stress can affect your elderly loved one’s brain in numerous ways. If your elderly loved one is stressed a lot of the time, they might need someone there to help them out on a regular basis. If you can’t be there to help, you can hire senior care providers to do so.


If you or an aging loved one is considering senior care in Plymouth, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.