Aging is accompanied by a host of common changes. Shifts in eating and sleeping habits, memory, and interests in certain activities are often linked to the natural process of growing older. Yet, these very changes can sometimes be indicative of a frequently overlooked and untreated condition in older adults: anxiety.
What Other Signs Do Older People With Anxiety Exhibit?
Along with the red flags noted above, an older adult with anxiety may experience:
- Obsessive thinking
- Excessive sweating
- A racing heart
- Extreme overreactions
- The need for repetition in certain activities, like handwashing
- And more
What Can Cause Anxiety in Older Adults?
There are a number of contributing factors for anxiety in older adults, including:
- Loss of a loved one
- A chronic health condition
- Problems with mobility
- Feeling as if they’ve lost their freedom
- Side effects from medications
- Trauma from their past
- And more
What Are the Most Common Types of Anxiety?
In many instances, the physician will diagnose an individual with generalized anxiety disorder, which covers an extensive array of anxieties. In addition, there are three specific forms of anxiety that could be diagnosed:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Also known as OCD, this condition causes the individual to go through specific rituals, often repeatedly, to manage compulsions or unwanted thoughts. These behaviors, such as washing hands over and over again or checking to be sure the door is locked multiple times, provide a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
- Social anxiety disorder: Social anxiety disorder occurs when the person experiences extreme nervousness or self-consciousness in social situations. This can be debilitating, leading the individual to avoid socializing altogether, something that is harmful both for their physical and emotional wellbeing.
- Phobias: Phobias are fears of a very specific situation or object. The person may, for instance, feel especially fearful of dental or doctor visits, insects, being alone, thunderstorms, the dark, etc.
How Can You Help Older People 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. To begin with, schedule an appointment with the physician for a diagnosis and recommendations. Additionally, you can:
- Speak with the individual regularly, allowing them to share their feelings and thoughts. Just listening without judgment can help instill a sense of calm and self-worth in a loved one.
- Recommend avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants, all of which can heighten anxiety.
- Encourage better sleeping habits if needed. A recent research study released by the University of California, Berkeley revealed that insufficient sleep can elevate anxiety up to 30%.
How Home Care Can Help
Hearts at Home In-Home Care can help in a variety of ways to ease anxiety for older adults. Our caregivers are wonderful companions for conversations, calming activities, and exercise. We can also prepare healthy meals, provide medication reminders, offer transportation to medical or therapy appointments, and much more.
Our award-winning in-home care services are available in Overland Park, Leawood, Kansas City, and surrounding areas. Email or call us any time at 913-440-4209 to learn more about how we can assist someone you love.