Aging is accompanied by a set of common changes. Shifts in eating and sleeping habits, memory, and disinterest in activities are oftentimes attributed to the natural process of growing older. However, these very changes can sometimes be indicative of an often overlooked and untreated condition in older adults: anxiety. It’s important for family members to educate themselves on the other signs of anxiety and how to relieve anxiety in seniors.
What Other Signs Could Point to Anxiety in Older Adults?
Along with the red flags noted above, an older adult with anxiety may experience:
- The need for repetition in certain activities, such as handwashing
- Excessive sweating
- Extreme overreactions
- Obsessive thinking
- A racing heart
- And more
What Can Cause Anxiety in Older Adults?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to anxiety in older adults, including:
- Problems with mobility
- Feeling as if they have lost their freedom
- Trauma from their past
- Loss of a loved one
- Side effects from medications
- A chronic health condition
- 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 array of types of anxiety. In addition, there are three specific types of anxiety that could be diagnosed:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Also known as OCD, this condition causes the individual to go through specific 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 feeling of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
- Phobias: Phobias are fears of a very specific situation or object. The person may, for example, feel particularly fearful of dental or doctor visits, spiders, being alone, thunderstorms, the dark, 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 physical and emotional wellbeing.
How Can You Help Relieve Anxiety in Seniors?
The good news is 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 doctor for a diagnosis and recommendations. Additionally, you can:
- Recommend avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants, all of which can increase anxiety.
- Talk with the individual regularly, allowing them to share their feelings and thoughts. Merely listening without judgment can help instill a feeling of calm and self-worth in your loved one.
- Encourage better sleeping habits if needed. A recent study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, showed that insufficient sleep can elevate anxiety up to 30%.
How Home Care Can Help
Absolute Companion Care can help ease anxiety for older adults in many ways. Our caregivers are fantastic companions for conversations, calming activities, and exercise. We can also plan and prepare healthy meals, provide medication reminders, offer transportation to therapy or medical appointments, and much more.
Our award-winning in-home care services are available in Monkton, Cockeysville, Timonium, and surrounding communities. Contact us online or give us a call any time at 410-357-9640 for more information on how we can assist someone you love.