Knowing the Signs and How to Avoid Senior Anxiety

Does an older adult you love struggle with enjoying activities or sleeping well, or are they experiencing memory problems? Before chalking it up to the common effects of growing older, consider another common culprit: anxiety. It’s a common occurrence in older adults, but there are effective ways to help them avoid senior anxiety.

In addition to the symptoms above, anxiety in seniors can also look like:

  • Nightmares
  • Overreactions to whatever is triggering symptoms
  • Obsessive thinking
  • Repetitive behaviors, such as handwashing
  • Physical effects such as heart palpitations, trembling, nausea, sweating, and more

While it’s difficult to pin down a specific cause for senior anxiety, it’s believed to be influenced by different situational and environmental factors that come with aging, including:

  • Health and mobility complications
  • Grief
  • Loss (or perceived loss) of independence
  • Medication side effects
  • Childhood trauma
  • And more

Common Types of Anxiety in Seniors

Though a generalized anxiety disorder is frequently diagnosed, there are some more specific types of anxiety problems that are common in older adults, including:

  • OCD: OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, drives a person to perform repetitive actions in order to control unwanted compulsions or thoughts. This provides a feeling of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation. The individual may feel the need to make sure that the oven is switched off multiple times or count the number of tiles on the kitchen floor before leaving the house.
  • Social anxiety disorder: This type of anxiety is displayed by extreme feelings of nervousness or self-consciousness in social situations. It can cause a person to avoid socializing, limiting their ability to make and keep connections with other people.
  • Phobias: Phobias are fears pertaining to a certain item or circumstance. For example, someone may experience heightened anxiety only if facing medical procedures or appointments, thunderstorms, insects, heights, etc.

How Can You Help Aging Adults Avoid Senior Anxiety?

The first step to take is setting up an appointment with the older adult’s physician. There are helpful treatment options, from prescription medications to counseling and changes in lifestyle. You can also:

  • Encourage them to get plenty of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can increase anxiety by as much as 30%, according to a study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Provide the person with plenty of opportunities to talk. Knowing they can trust you with their thoughts and feelings, without concern about judgment, can be extremely helpful and freeing.
  • Help the person understand the need to avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other stimulants that may worsen anxiety.

Radiant Health Services is here to help ease senior anxiety with our home care services. A caregiver makes a great companion for an older adult to talk to and engage with in enjoyable, calming activities. We can also prepare healthy meals, encourage the utilization of stress management techniques, and more. Contact us online or call us at (240) 673-6377 for more information on how we can help someone you love in Annapolis, Baltimore, Bowie or the nearby areas.

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