Elderly Anxiety: What to Be Aware Of
Anxiety can impact any person at any time—no matter what their age. However, there are some specific types of anxiety that are more common, particularly in elderly individuals. There are also many seniors who do not understand or realize that they are starting to experience anxiety—and they may need help from their friends and loved ones to spot that they are struggling with anxiety.
This is why it is so important for anyone with a senior in their life to be aware of common elderly anxiety disorders, their symptoms and when seniors need help. The best thing that concerned loved ones can do is to help spot these problems and then help their senior et the attention that they need. Here is some important information to understand elderly anxiety disorders:
- Seniors who are on multiple medications can sometimes exacerbate their anxiety. It is important to be aware of all of the side effects of different medications, as well as the side effects of mixing medications as well.
- There are other medical conditions that can make anxiety worse, such as depression or Alzheimer’s disease. These, of course, are also conditions that are increasingly common among elderly adults.
- Don’t dismiss excessive worrying. It is important that you don’t just dismiss a senior’s worrying as “nothing” or as a result of a change in their current routine. While it is normal for seniors who are moving to an assisted living home to experience more worry than usual—if that senior is constantly, excessively worrying, it may be time to intervene.
- Pay close attention to seniors when they move. Moving can be really difficult for any senior, particularly if they are moving for the first time in years or decades—so make sure to pay close attention to the signs of anxiety during this time.
- Look for signs of seniors not wanting to leave the house. If an elderly adult all of a sudden is more home-bound and unwilling to leave their home—this can be a sign of developing anxiety. Many times, this anxiety can prevent seniors from wanting to leave the home or go out and socialize in public.
Common senior anxiety disorders include acute stress disorder, PTSD, panic attacks, social attacks, generalized anxiety, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder. It can also manifest in phobias or even insomnia. Symptoms of anxiety include agitation, excessive worry, difficulty concentration, tense muscles, and irrational fears. Any sudden onset of these symptoms may be due to a medication interaction or a high level of the drug in their system.
Remember that people can develop anxiety at any point in their lives. Just because a senior is a certain age, or just because they haven’t gone through a particularly stressful or anxiety-producing life situation, it doesn’t mean that they can’t start experiencing anxiety.
There are more seniors than ever who are struggling with anxiety disorders. If you have a senior loved one in your life who you feel may be dealing with anxiety, then you can be there to help them get the medical assistance they need to find relief.
- Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place for her senior research project and placed in the 98th percentile on the national exam for OB/GYN residents in the U.S..
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