Aging is accompanied by a set of common changes. Shifts in sleeping and eating habits, memory, and interests in certain activities are oftentimes attributed to the natural process of growing older. Yet, these very changes can sometimes be indicative of an often overlooked and untreated condition in older adults: anxiety. Managing anxiety in older adults can seem tricky, but understanding the warning signs can help.
What Other Signs Could Point to Anxiety in Older Adults?
Together with the red flags noted above, an older adult with anxiety may experience:
- Obsessive thinking
- Extreme overreactions
- Excessive sweating
- A racing heart
- The need for repetition in certain activities, like 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
- Trauma from their past
- A chronic health condition
- Feeling as if they’ve lost their freedom
- Side effects from medications
- Difficulties with mobility
- And more
What Are the Most Common Types of Anxiety?
In many cases, the physician will diagnose a person with generalized anxiety disorder, which covers an extensive array of anxiety. In addition, there are three specific types of anxiety that may be diagnosed:
- Social anxiety disorder: Social anxiety disorder occurs when the person experiences extreme nervousness or self-consciousness in social situations. This can be debilitating, leading the person to avoid socializing altogether, something which is harmful both for 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 over and over again or checking to make sure the door is locked multiple times, provide a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
- Phobias: Phobias are fears of a very specific situation or object. The individual may, for instance, feel especially fearful of dental or doctor visits, spiders, being alone, thunderstorms, the dark, etc.
What Are Some Strategies for Managing Anxiety in Older Adults?
The good news is that there are successful treatment options available for individuals with anxiety, ranging from counseling to medications to changes in lifestyle. To begin with, schedule an appointment with the doctor 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 person frequently, allowing them to share their feelings and thoughts. Simply listening without judgment will help instill a feeling of calm and self-worth in your loved one.
- Recommend avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants, all of which can increase anxiety.
How Home Care Can Help
Abby Senior Care can help in a variety of ways to ease anxiety for older adults. 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.
Our top-rated in-home care services are available in Arvada, Littleton, Aurora, and surrounding communities. Email or call us any time at 303-699-8840 for more information on how we can assist someone you love.