Anxiety Among Seniors and How to Help The Elderly Cope

Used to be that the medical field believed anxiety disorders decreased with age. The logic was that seniors more likely singled out their physical complaints and not their psychological.  But the science now tells us aging does not discriminate by age groups. 

A major factor in maintaining quality of life among older adults is understanding the triggers of anxiety and how to treat it.

4 Sources of Anxiety

Fatigue, outbursts of frustration and irritability, agitation and restlessness, muscle tension, trouble concentrating, and difficulty sleeping represent a few of the key signs of anxiety disorder. Even if you or your loved one is not expressing concern or worry directly, there may be physical manifestations of anxiety. If this appears to be the case, look for these common causes of anxiety:

·         Fear of Being Alone – The fear of being left alone is especially traumatic for memory loss and dementia sufferers since they may forget that loved ones and visitors are returning.

·         Loss of Independence – The walls can feel like they are closing in as you lose the ability to live on your own and drive places. Older adults can find themselves worrying constantly and lose their sense of purpose when they don’t have autonomy.

·         Injury or Illness – Anxiety often comes from the fear of losing major faculties or not surviving an acute illness or fall. This can also slow recovery processes.

·         Mental Decline – The frustration and confusion which comes with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of memory loss can lead to anxiety. Unforeseen changes to the planned sequence of events or schedule might trigger panic attacks.

How to Cope With Anxiety

There are several practical actions which seniors who are experiencing anxiety can take in conjunction with discussing concerns with their healthcare provider. One solution is to seek social interaction. This can be as simple as taking a class at the nearby senior center or setting up a weekly date with a family member to visit a museum, see a show, or to go out to lunch. Social connections can also be sought online through Facebook and other social media platforms.

Also try creating a fixed, daily schedule. This will give you more control over your day and let you know what to expect. When you don’t know what is going to happen next, it can trigger anxiety. So, have set times for eating meals, waking, going to bed, brushing your teeth, taking meds, and exercising. Staying active is perhaps the most powerful anxiety fighter for people of all ages.

Written By Sally Writes, Pride PHC Contributor

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