Navigating Life Transitions Part One: Caregiver Stress

Navigating Life Transitions

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



It’s natural to want to be there when your aging loved one needs help which is likely why there are an estimated 42 million unpaid caregivers in the United States caring for someone age 50 or older according to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP’s report, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2020.” That’s 1 in 6 Americans taking on this immensely rewarding but also incredibly stressful role. Here’s how that stress can affect you over time along with tips on how to navigate caregiver stress during these life transitions.

The ABCs of Stress for Caregivers

NAC and AARP’s report states that caregivers provide about 24 hours of care each week. For most, that’s in addition to their other family responsibilities, as well as their job. With all that going on, it’s easy to overlook the signs of caregiver stress, which include:

  • Being overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired often
  • Getting too much or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight suddenly
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad often
  • Having frequent headaches, body pain, or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

Tips to Cope with Caregiver Stress

Even if you are experiencing some of these signs, you may think they aren’t consequential enough to warrant action or that you have no choice but to grin and bear it: so to speak. But the reality is, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be as much help to your loved one as you could be. In fact, prolonged stress can lead to health issues such as an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression, insomnia, poor concentration, digestive issues, and a weakened immune system. 

However, there are many ways you can cope with caregiver stress. Our tips include:

  • Finding a support group; you can find a sampling of options through AARP
  • Building a support network of family and friends who can help with your loved one
  • Keeping up with YOUR regular, preventative doctor visits 
  • Consider talking to a family counselor or therapist about your stress
  • Committing to eat better and get regular exercise
  • Allowing yourself to rest when you need it
  • Making time to spend with friends, family and to pursue your interests

Perhaps even more important is to know when to ask for help. Realistically you can’t do it all, and there may very well come a time when your loved one requires more care than you can provide at home. At this point, it may be time to consider senior living.

Considering Senior Living for Your Loved One

It’s never easy to consider senior living for a loved one, even with all the benefits it can offer for their health, safety, and quality of life. But as a caregiver, it’s often even harder to take this step. From the outside looking in, it may seem like senior living can relieve much of the stress caregivers experience, and it will, but you may initially feel even more stressed just for considering it. It’s usually guilt that drives this, and some of the most common reasons include:

  • A past promise you wouldn’t make them move
  • Feeling like you’ve failed them as a caregiver
  • Taking them out of their comfort zone when they’re struggling the most
  • Feeling it’s unfair to live a normal life when they can’t

While these reasons are certainly understandable, you mustn’t let them cloud your judgment of what’s truly in your loved one’s best interests right now. After all, whether they are at home or in senior living, you’re still caring for them, just in a different way. Not to mention, families are often surprised at how quickly their loved one begins to thrive in senior living, with many saying they wish they’d made the move sooner. Check out our guide on Choosing the Right Senior Living Community for more information. Or, contact us today to schedule your virtual tour!

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