Aging is accompanied by a set of common changes. Shifts in eating and sleeping habits, memory, and interests in certain activities are often attributed to the natural process of growing older. Yet, these very changes can sometimes be indicative of a frequently overlooked and untreated condition in older adults: anxiety. It’s crucial for family members to learn as much as possible about the condition and to know anxiety management tips to help.
What Other Signs Could Point to Anxiety in Older Adults?
Along with the red flags noted above, an older adult with anxiety may experience:
- Obsessive thinking
- A racing heart
- Extreme overreactions
- The need for repetition in specific activities, like handwashing
- Excessive sweating
- And more
What Can Cause Anxiety in Older Adults?
There are a number of contributing factors for anxiety in older adults, including:
- Feeling as though they have lost their freedom
- Trauma from their past
- Problems with mobility
- Loss of a friend or family member
- Side effects from medications
- A chronic health condition
- And more
What Are the Most Common Types of Anxiety?
In many instances, the physician will diagnose a person with generalized anxiety disorder, which covers an extensive array of anxieties. In addition, there are three specific types of anxiety which may be diagnosed:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Also known as OCD, this condition causes the individual 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 make sure the door is locked multiple times, provide a feeling of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
- 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 both for their physical and emotional wellbeing.
- Phobias: Phobias are fears of a very specific object or situation. The person may, for instance, feel especially fearful o doctor or dental visits, insects, being alone, thunderstorms, the dark, etc.
Anxiety Management Tips for Seniors
The good news is that there are effective treatment options available for individuals with anxiety, ranging from medications to counseling to lifestyle changes. 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 released by the University of California, Berkeley, revealed that insufficient sleep can elevate anxiety by as much as 30%.
- Recommend steering clear of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants, all of which can heighten anxiety.
- Talk with the individual regularly, allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings. Simply listening without judgment will help instill a feeling of calm and self-worth in a loved one.
How Home Care Can Help
Need more anxiety management tips for senior loved ones? Live Free Home Health Care can ease anxiety for older adults in a variety of ways. Our caregivers are fantastic companions for conversations, calming activities, and exercise. We can also prepare healthy meals, provide medication reminders, offer transportation to therapy or medical appointments, and much more.