Aging is accompanied by a set of common changes. Shifts in eating and sleeping habits, memory, and interests in certain activities are often attributed to the natural process of growing older. However, these very changes can sometimes be indicative of a frequently overlooked and untreated condition in older adults: anxiety. Our care experts offer the following tips for anxiety management to help improve mental health in older loved ones.
What Other Signs Could Point to Anxiety in Older Adults?
In addition to the red flags noted above, an older adult with anxiety may experience:
- A racing heart
- The need for repetition in certain activities, like handwashing
- Extreme overreactions
- Obsessive thinking
- Excessive sweating
- And more
What Causes Anxiety in Older Adults?
There are a number of contributing factors for anxiety in older adults, including:
- Feeling as if they’ve lost their freedom
- Problems with mobility
- Loss of a friend or family member
- Trauma from their past
- Side effects from medications
- A chronic health condition
- And more
What Are the Most Common Types of Anxiety?
In many instances, a doctor will diagnose an individual with generalized anxiety disorder, which covers a broad array of anxieties. In addition, there are three specific types of anxiety that may be diagnosed:
- Phobias: Phobias are fears of a very specific situation or object. The person may, for example, feel especially fearful of dental or doctor visits, spiders, being alone, thunderstorms, the dark, etc.
- 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 person to avoid socializing altogether, something that is harmful both for their physical and emotional 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 again and again or checking to make sure the door is locked multiple times, provide a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
What Are Some Tips for Anxiety Management?
The good news is that there are successful treatment options available for people with anxiety, ranging from counseling to medications to changes in lifestyle. To begin with, schedule an appointment with the physician for a diagnosis and recommendations. Additionally, you can:
- Encourage better sleeping habits if needed. A recent research study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley showed that insufficient sleep can elevate anxiety by as much as 30%.
- Recommend avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants, all of which can heighten anxiety.
- Speak with the person frequently, allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings. Just listening without judgment can help instill a feeling of calm and self-worth in a loved one.
How Home Care Can Help
Inspired Home Care can help ease anxiety for older adults in lots of ways. Our caregivers are delightful companions for conversations, calming activities, and exercise. We can also plan and 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 Buffalo Grove, Barrington Chicago, and surrounding communities. Contact us any time at 847-787-7572 for more information on how we can help someone you love.