Everyone feels anxious once in a while, no matter their age. It’s normal. However, anxiety that is ongoing and interferes with socialization and daily tasks is a serious matter. At Aurora Home Care & Hospice we see the devastating effect this condition has on individuals, as well as their families. Continue reading to learn how caregivers can help seniors manage anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Approximately 15% of the Senior population has anxiety, and it’s often undiagnosed. There are different types of anxiety, but phobias are the most common. Being afraid to drive, dreading going up a ladder, or getting stressed out about leaving the house are three examples.
The second form of anxiety is GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). People worry nonstop over things that don’t require such a strong reaction.
Beyond phobias, some individuals Aurora serves, like vets, have post-traumatic stress disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and panic disorders. The aging community doesn’t always recognize symptoms of anxiety or may refuse to acknowledge them. Some may have had the condition throughout adulthood, so it’s become a “norm.” Unfortunately, left untreated, anxiety can lead to poor physical health, mental impairment, and a vastly reduced quality of life. Couple this with other stressors due to aging (memory problems and poor health) and it paints a grim picture.
How does Anxiety Present Itself?
The way anxiety manifests depends on the individual. They may experience:
- A panic attack
- Chest pain
- Hot flashes
- Muscle aches
In terms of mental health and well-being, Women are more susceptible to anxiety than men. It is worth noting that depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand like two unwanted guests in a person’s brain. So now an individual is not only worrying, sleeping poorly, and avoiding social situations, they lack motivation, can’t concentrate, or feel worthless.
4 Steps to Help Seniors Manage Anxiety
Studies conclusively show that the aging community struggles with anxiety coupled with physical illness and limited mobility. It’s hard to watch someone suffer, but you are not powerless. Here are four things you can do to help.
Four Steps to Help Seniors Manage Anxiety
- Socialization. Feeling isolated is a common problem among seniors. So, help them create a network of support. Be it a phone call, someone stopping by, or taking them to an activity, human contact is very healing. The individuals feel remembered and valued.
- Calming Methods: There are some very simple breathing methods anyone can learn to help reduce anxious reactions. For example, breathe in on the count of three, and out on the count of three. Repeat. Alternatively, put on some soothing music or an audiobook. The book redirects attention away from worry, engaging the mind in something else.
- Patterning: Humans are very ritualistic. As you create a routine for your loved ones, they have a sense of presence and place. They know what to expect thanks to a daily schedule. It may help to have a home care aide who can stay with them and assist with continuity.
- Sleep Hygiene: Anxiety is notorious for interrupting sleep. While medication may help, so does having a nighttime routine. Encourage them to “wind down” for a half-hour before bed. They should avoid electronics during this time, and dim the lights. Use the calming methods in step 2. The idea is to teach their body when it’s time to “turn off.”
Caregiver’s Support System
There are times when you feel overwhelmed by your loved one’s mental state. The good news is that we at Aurora Home Care & Hospice can provide your family with trained staff to give you a break. It’s very important that you take care of yourself and get some relief before you become ill from the stress.
If you have been considering a home care provider, feel free to call either of our offices.