How Can You Help Seniors with Anxiety?

By Published On: June 12, 2023Categories: Caregiver Tips, Mental Health, Senior Health
woman comforting senior lady

Wondering how you can help seniors with anxiety? We have the answers!

 

Is a senior loved one having challenges with memory, sleeping well, socializing, or enjoying activities? Before chalking it up to the common effects of growing older, consider another common culprit: anxiety.

In addition to these symptoms, seniors with anxiety can experience symptoms including:

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

There isn’t a known specific cause for anxiety in seniors, but seniors with anxiety may have symptoms that are believed to be impacted by a mix of environmental and situational factors common to aging, such as:

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

Common Types of Anxiety in Older Adults

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

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

How Can I Best Help Seniors with Anxiety?

Start by scheduling an appointment with the senior’s doctor. There are helpful treatment options, from prescription medications to therapy 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 research study performed 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, nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants, which could worsen anxiety.

Golden Harmony is here to help as well. A caregiver makes an excellent companion for a senior to talk to and engage with in calming, enjoyable activities. We can also prepare nourishing meals, encourage the utilization of stress management techniques, and more. Contact us online or call us at 919-426-7522 to learn more about how we can help someone you love in Raleigh or the nearby areas.