Coping With Anxiety Disorders In Seniors

Anxiety disorders can affect people of all ages. The elderly population, however, can be more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Are you worried someone you love is experiencing an anxiety disorder? Here’s the information you need to know to successfully navigate anxiety disorders in seniors.

Anxiety disorders are believed to impact up to 20 percent of seniors. Though it’s more common in women — and the number one mental health problem — it’s also common in men. For men, anxiety is second only to substance abuse when it comes to mental health problems.

Anxiety isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. There are many different ways anxiety can manifest itself. Phobias are a common anxiety type for people of all ages. A phobia is an irrational, heightened fear of something. In the elderly, this can frequently be seen as a fear of social experiences or traveling far from home.

Anxiety disorders pill on a cardboard

Signs your loved one is experiencing an anxiety disorder

Aren’t sure if your loved one is experiencing anxiety? Is your senior loved one experiencing panic attacks or physical manifestations of anxiety such as heart palpitations, nausea, or shortness of breath? If these symptoms are linked to a single catalyst, your loved one may have an anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety disorder can be another common anxiety disorder in seniors. This is often triggered by social interactions and may lead to your loved one opting to stay home instead of engaging with others.

Unlike other kinds of anxiety, social anxiety can continue after the experience has ended. Your loved one may become overly focused on how others perceive them and have an overwhelming feeling of being judged.

Additional anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Notice your elderly loved one is experiencing excessive amounts of worry, avoids social outings, and becoming hyper-focused on routine? They may have an anxiety disorder and should be thoroughly evaluated by their care provider.

What can you do about anxiety disorders in seniors?

If you think your loved one is experiencing an anxiety disorder, you can do something about it. Start by talking with your loved one’s carers.

A proper diagnosis can help ensure the actual issue is being addressed. Your care provider can work with you to create a comprehensive plan of action. This may include medication and therapy.

In addition to seeing a professional, some steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of anxiety disorders in seniors.

  • Encourage your loved one to avoid nicotine and caffeine, as both of these substances can work to increase anxiety.
  • Alcohol, over-the-counter medication, and prescription and illegal drugs can also increase anxiety. Make sure the care provider has been fully informed about what your loved one is ingesting.
  • Exercise and stress management skills can both work to ease overwhelming feelings of anxiety as well. Encourage your loved one to get out and about and help them work through their anxiety.

Navigating anxiety disorders in the elderly isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly possible if you take those first steps. Here at Fairview Rehab & Nursing Home in Queens, NY, our compassionate staff is always on hand to provide help and emotional support.