Aging is accompanied by a set of common changes. Shifts in eating and sleeping habits, memory, and interests in certain activities are oftentimes linked to the natural process of growing older. However, these very changes can sometimes be signs of an often overlooked and untreated condition in older adults: anxiety. It’s important for family members to recognize anxiety in older loved ones and to learn strategies for managing senior anxiety.
What Other Signs Could Point to Anxiety in Older Adults?
Along with the red flags noted above, an older adult with anxiety may experience:
- A racing heart
- Obsessive thinking
- Extreme overreactions
- Excessive sweating
- The need for repetition in certain activities, such as handwashing
- And more
What Can Cause Anxiety in Older Adults?
There are a number of contributing factors for anxiety in older adults, including:
- Loss of a loved one
- Feeling as though they have lost their freedom
- Challenges with mobility
- A chronic health condition
- Trauma from their past
- Side effects from medications
- And more
What Are the Most Common Types of Anxiety?
In many instances, a doctor will diagnose an individual with generalized anxiety disorder, which covers an extensive array of anxieties. In addition, there are three specific types of anxiety that could be diagnosed:
- Phobias: Phobias are fears of a very specific object or situation. The individual may, for instance, feel particularly fearful of doctor or dental visits, insects, thunderstorms, the dark, being alone, etc.
- Social anxiety disorder: Social anxiety disorder occurs when the individual experiences extreme nervousness or self-consciousness in social situations. This can be debilitating, leading the individual to avoid socializing altogether, something that is harmful for both their emotional and physical wellbeing.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Also known as OCD, this condition causes the person to go through certain rituals, often repeatedly, to manage unwanted thoughts or compulsions. These behaviors, such as washing hands again and again or checking to be sure the door is locked multiple times, provide a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
Strategies for Managing Senior Anxiety
The good news is there are effective treatment options available for people with anxiety, ranging from counseling to medications to changes in lifestyle. To begin with, schedule an appointment with the physician for a diagnosis and recommendations. Additionally, you can:
- Encourage better sleeping habits if needed. A recent research study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley revealed that insufficient sleep can elevate anxiety by as much as 30%.
- Speak with the individual regularly, allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings. Just listening without judgment will help instill a feeling of calm and self-worth in your loved one.
- Recommend steering clear of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants, all of which can increase anxiety.
How Home Care Can Help
Morning Glory Home Care can assist in a variety of ways to help ease anxiety for older adults. Our caregivers are delightful companions for conversations, calming activities, and exercise. We can also prepare healthy meals, provide medication reminders, offer transportation to medical or therapy appointments, and more.
Our top-rated in-home care services are available in Granite City, Collinsville, Edwardsville, and nearby communities. Contact us any time at 618-667-8400 for more information on how we can help someone you love.