Aging is accompanied by a set of common changes. Shifts in eating and sleeping habits, memory, and interests in activities are often 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.
Anxiety and Older Adults: What Are Other Common Signs?
In addition to the red flags noted above, an older adult with anxiety may experience:
- Excessive sweating
- Extreme overreactions
- A racing heart
- The need for repetition in specific activities, such as handwashing
- Obsessive thinking
- And more
What Can Cause Anxiety in Older Adults?
There are a number of contributing factors for anxiety in older adults, including:
- Trauma from their past
- A chronic health condition
- Loss of a friend or family member
- Side effects from medications
- Feeling as if they’ve lost their freedom
- Difficulties with mobility
- And more
What Are the Most Common Types of Anxiety?
In many instances, a doctor will diagnose a person with generalized anxiety disorder, which covers a broad array of types of anxiety. In addition, there are three specific forms of anxiety which may be diagnosed:
- Phobias: Phobias are fears of a very specific object or situation. The person may, for instance, feel especially fearful of doctor or dental visits, spiders, thunderstorms, the dark, being alone, 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 person to avoid socializing altogether, something that is harmful both for their emotional and physical wellbeing.
- 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, for instance washing hands over and over again or checking to be sure the door is locked multiple times, provide a feeling of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
How Can You Help an Older Adult With Anxiety?
The good news is that there are effective treatment options available for people with anxiety, ranging from medications to counseling to lifestyle changes. First, schedule an appointment with the doctor for a diagnosis and recommendations. Additionally, you can:
- Encourage better sleeping habits if needed. A recent study released by the University of California, Berkeley, showed that insufficient sleep can elevate anxiety by as much as 30%.
- Speak with the person regularly, allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings. Simply listening without judgment will help instill a feeling of calm and self-worth in your loved one.
- Recommend steering clear of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, along with other stimulants, all of which can heighten anxiety.
How Home Care Can Help
Anthem Home Care can help to 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 more.
Our award-winning in-home care services are available in Ingleside, Rockport, Portland, and surrounding areas. Contact us any time at 361-643-2323 to learn more about how we can assist someone you love.