It is relatively common for seniors to experience anxiety due to changes in their brains and bodies. According to statistics from the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, anxiety affects about 10% to 20% of the American senior population. However, if anxiety in seniors is not dealt with, it can become a disorder that affects your loved one’s daily life. Anxiety disorders often go undetected even though this condition is known to occur more frequently in older adults compared to depression and cognitive disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most common type of anxiety disorder diagnosed in seniors. To find out if your loved one is experiencing anxiety, here are the signs you should look out for:
- Difficulty breathing, sweating, and nausea
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Digestion issues and chest discomfort
- Headaches and disorientation
- Eye and vision difficulties
- Irrational thinking
- Muscle tension, stiffness, and exhaustion
- Avoidance of activities, places, people, and even ideas that make them uneasy
- Changes in weight, appetite, or eating habits
- Inability to sleep
- Reluctance to leave home
- Withdrawal from people or preferring isolation
Being aware of these physical symptoms can help you identify when you or a loved one might need assistance. Anxiety disorder is a condition that can be treated. If you notice that your family member or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, you should encourage him or her to seek professional help. Try to empathize with your loved one and support him or her in the best way you can. Here’s what you can do to help your loved one cope with anxiety.
Identify the Source of Anxiety
As we grow older, we may require assistance with certain activities of daily life due to mobility challenges, health issues, or cognitive deterioration. Having to come to grips with the loss of your independence may be tough, and the thought of not being able to do the things you used to do effortlessly can be quite stressful and upsetting. Although this is a natural part of the aging process, many of us can’t help but feel a sense of loss over the control we used to wield in our lives. Some of us may take these changes in stride but in others, this can cause a great deal of anxiety.
Understanding what causes your loved one’s anxiety can help him or her to deal with it. When your loved one is aware of his anxiety trigger, he will be able to regain a sense of control over what he is feeling. Therapy is one way your loved one can learn coping mechanisms to help him deal with his anxiety. Your loved one’s therapist will also be able to teach him specific relaxation techniques that work best for his condition.
Create Your Support Network
No matter what age you are, social interaction contributes to different aspects of your health. If you or your loved one is struggling with anxiety, you may choose to isolate yourself, which can inadvertently lead to other psychological issues.
If you are battling anxiety, family members, friends, and people you trust can rally around you to give you valuable moral and emotional support. Creating a support network can also provide you with perspectives and insights. For example, your loved ones may be able to assist you in recognizing stressors that cause you anxiety, which you may not be able to pick up on your own.
Lead a Healthy and Balanced life
Getting the recommended hours of sleep every night, eating a healthy diet, and being active are all good habits that can help reduce stress and anxiety in seniors. You can remain physically active by participating in social activities like dancing, or doing yoga and tai chi. You can also spend time on your hobbies or pursue new interests. Instead of dwelling on your fear and anxiety, it’s time to take back control and make the most of your golden years!