Anxiety in the Elderly: Symptoms and Restorative Strategies

As we age and grow, the changes in our appearance, habits, and lifestyle alter too.  Some individuals experience deterioration in physical health, while others go through mental issues. And, while physical health concerns are visible for immediate action, mental health issues remain concealed by many elderly people.

These individuals can be suffering a lot under the phrase; I am okay.

Here is everything you should know about anxiety in the elderly.

Symptoms of Anxiety in Elderly  

Did you know anxiety disorders affect approximately 10 to 20-percent of the older population? Well, anxiety and stress are some of the most commonly-experienced issues in seniors. 

Many dismiss anxiety, considering it a general health problem that occurs as a part of aging. However, there is a diversity of different anxiety disorders, from panic to post-traumatic stress disorder.  None of these should be considered as an aging process.  

Here’s how to identify anxiety disorders in seniors and the elderly:

  • Muscle tension and soreness
  • Irrational thoughts
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty in sleep
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Nausea
  • Isolating behavior
  • Panic
  • Shakiness
  • Irritability
  • Abuse of substances
  • Obsessive thoughts

Please note: an individual with an anxiety disorder will have two or more of these symptoms. However, it is not necessary for all of the symptoms stated to be present. 

If you notice any of these symptoms in the elderly, then you should seek immediate solutions. Letting these go unnoticed can make them worse. These individuals can develop serious mental health concerns, such as depression. It is best to first seek advice from a licensed medical professional.

Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety does not have a specific trigger. It can be one of the dangerous mental health issues that targets and attacks in silence.  Individuals impacted and the people around may not even know what’s happening until the issue reaches a difficult-to-handle stage. 

Usually, anxiety takes root due to certain environmental and situational factors.  For seniors, dealing with change can be a daunting task. 

Some commonly-identified triggers of anxiety in the elderly includes:

  • Arguments and domestic issues
  • Role reversal
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Immobility
  • Financial insecurities
  • Loss of independence
  • Chronic pain
  • Dementia
  • Isolation
  • Decrease in sensory perception
  • Grief

As responsible individuals, we should look for such situations and triggers of anxiety. It is best to prevent and avoid the creation of anxiety-causing scenarios.

However, if prevention is beyond control, it is essential to create a positive and supportive atmosphere for senior adults, so, they can better handle and cope with anxiety.

Effective Restorative Strategies

Once anxiety arises, it will not go away on its own. It’s a long process that continues to worsen if left unhandled. Hence, if you observe any elderly having anxiety issues, then it is essential to provide required care.

You can do a diversity of things to support your loved one. For example, you should establish a serene and calm atmosphere so that they can easily maintain an enjoyable lifestyle.

If they have breathing issues or sleeping disturbances, consider installing ceiling fans in their rooms to improve air flow in the room.

Be a good listener and take time to engage with them. Additionally, get them to engage with other elderly people through social programs. 

Furthermore, you can help elderly and senior adults with anxiety disorders by taking them to healthcare experts. A professional can assist them through proper medicinal methods and techniques.

Final Thoughts

Mental well-being is the right of every individual regardless of their age. Also, it is the responsibility of every individual to ensure the environment remains positive and supportive for others. So, if you notice an elderly loved one experiencing mental health issues, approach them to offer the support they need.

This article was kindly written and contributed by Arslan Hassan.

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