Senior citizens can often be more prone to anxiety than younger people because of various matters that are dealt with as we age: coming to terms with their own mortality, seeing close friends die due to old age, reduced mobility due to joint aches and muscle pains, chronic illnesses, sleep deprivation, reduced independence, and many more.
Anxiety in old people may sometimes manifest itself as physical symptoms though it is still wise to visit the doctor for medical checkups.
Most older people grew up during a time that stigmatized people with mental disorders, and many seniors will therefore deny experiencing anxiety attacks. Some may try to explain their anxiety as just a mild state of unhappiness or worry.
As a caretaker or guardian of a senior citizen, you need to be on the lookout for anxiety symptoms such as:
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Easily irritable
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Pessimistic view of life
- Abdominal pain
- Increased heart rate
- Stress and constant worry
Motivating and encouraging older people to express their feelings will help them open up to you when they feel overwhelmed with life.
Below are some ideas that can help seniors deal with anxiety disorder:
There are many versions of exercises that seniors with anxiety can try out when they feel overpowered by their emotions.
A great example is the breathing exercise. When the person is on the verge of panic, you can help them calm down by instructing them to take deep slow breaths, and hold it for about four seconds before slowly breathing out and repeating the procedure until they calm down.
Physical exercise can also work wonders on seniors struggling with anxiety. Although some exercises might be too challenging to older folks, there are new gentler forms of exercise like Yoga that will have calming effects.
People suffering from anxiety dread the unknown. Having a predictable daily routine will help seniors with anxiety feel calmer and in control because they know what to expect.
Seniors suffering from dementia are more prone to anxiety attacks and routines may be of great use to them by minimizing the confusion and suddenness that comes with random activities.
Routines not only provide predictability, but also offer purpose because senior citizens will have something to look forward to, like a weekly visit from their grandchildren, a daily walk with members of their fitness group, or curiosity of what will happen next in their favorite TV show.
If you have tried all the above methods and others such as, offering social support and providing a caregiver to watch over them at night to make them feel secure, but the aging folks in your life still experience severe anxiety, it may be time to seek professional help.
Doctors prescribe anti-anxiety drugs to seniors with severe anxiety, after making sure the drugs will not react with other drugs that the senior may be taking.
In other cases, physiotherapy help is also a great option to help seniors deal with the root cause of their anxiety attacks.