Elders and stress

When we test, do we stress?

Studies on human stress have shown that when individuals are exposed to a stressful situation, they produce stress hormones that access the brain and impair memory performance.

Studies on memory and aging consistently show that older adults perform much worse than young adults on memory tests. Such a difference in performance is assumed to be a natural outcome of the aging process.

Interestingly, a close look at the testing environment in which older and young adults are tested reveals that older adults may be tested in stressful unfavorable environments, while young adults are tested in more favorable environments.

The Centre for Studies on Human Stress (CSHS) conducted a study, carried out by Shireen Sindi (Ph.D. Candidate), which found that when older adults are tested in stressful testing environments, their stress hormone levels are elevated, which in turn has a negative impact on their memory performance. The study provided evidence for the effects of testing environments in research settings.

Based on these intriguing results, our curiosity set in to assess whether the same conclsion would apply to clinics, and to learn more about the factors that deem medical settings stressful for older adults. 

Members of the CSHS organized a focus group with older adults, which provided them with an opportunity to speak out.

 As such, we developed a Knowledge Translation program.

Its goals were to:
Gather further information on stressful factors in clinical testing environments. This was conducted through focus groups held with older adults, 
Ask researchers, clinicians and health professionals working with older adults to provide suggestions/solutions for the reported stressors.

Download documents: 

Guidelines for health professionals and scientist working with older adults [PDF]

Poster : When we test, Let's NOT STRESS