Older people who are under a lot of stress could have a lowered immune function, according to research, which could make them more prone to conditions leading to a need for assisted living.
Researchers from the Ohio State University found that stress triggers changes in the composition, diversity and number of gut microorganisms which increases the numbers of potentially harmful bacteria.
"When we reduced the number of bacteria in the intestines using antibiotics, we found that some of the effects of stress on the immune system were prevented", explained lead researcher Michael Bailey
"This suggests that not only does stress change the bacteria levels in the gut, but that these alterations can, in turn, impact our immunity."
Symptoms of stress include difficulty sleeping, sweating, a lack of appetite and difficulty concentrating. According to NHS Choices, short term stress can be managed by using relaxation techniques such as listening to music or making changes at home or work.