While anxiety is common in both younger and older adults, what may differ is how anxiety presents in older individuals. The stressors and vulnerabilities unique to the aging process can become triggers for anxiety, including cognitive, vision and/or hearing impairments, social isolation, mobility limitations, emotional loss, and increasing health problems. Consequently, prescription medications for physical ailments may mask anxiety, making symptoms sometimes difficult for you to recognize in your loved one.
If you notice that your loved one is increasingly more fearful and experiences bouts of anxiety, here are some actions you can take to help:
- Acknowledge and address any concerns or fears constructively. For example, if your loved one is worried about finances, a visit with a financial professional could prove helpful.
- If social interaction has become limited, contact the local senior center and check out adult day health programs, which offer multiple opportunities for socializing among peers in a congenial, safe environment.
- Suggest new enjoyable activities that could mitigate stress and improve quality of life. These might include listening to soothing music, watching uplifting movies, practicing chair yoga or breathing techniques, and/or making time for meditation and relaxation. Even indoor gardening on a small scale or an online memoir writing class could be viable outlets.
- Encourage your loved one to reduce consumption of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and over-the-counter cold medications that may increase blood pressure or interact with other medications.
- Limit news of current events. While it’s important to keep abreast of what’s going on, too much negative news can contribute to anxiety and trigger additional fears.
- Allow enough time for these strategies to work.
- Consult your loved one’s primary care physician for treatment options if symptoms persist or worsen.
As a family member, you’re more likely to recognize any behavioral or mood changes in your loved one over a period of time. By taking positive steps to address any concerns or fears and introducing new avenues for mental or physical activities, you may be able to mitigate anxiety in your loved one and improve his or her quality of life in the process. If anxiety levels should worsen, however, be sure to speak with your loved one’s health care provider.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This article was prepared by Liberty Publishing, Inc.
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