Ghosts. Goblins. Things that go bump in the night. There are plenty things to fear during this spooky time of year. But for older adults, fears go deeper than the typical scary movie tropes. Change is an inevitable part of life, but change can be quite scary to older adults. When that change is happening within your own body, as it does during the natural progression of aging, it can bring up some very real fears.
From the outside looking in, family caregivers may have a difficult time understanding their senior loved ones’ fears about aging. Our home caregivers in Tucson and the surrounding areas have compiled a list of some of the most common anxieties about aging.
- The Fear of Poor Health: Certain aspects of health may naturally wane as a person ages. This decline can escalate if the person has any chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, COPD, or heart disease. For those who are used to an active, healthy lifestyle, the idea or actuality of a decline in health can be upsetting. Talking about this kind of fear is key to helping senior loved ones cope with it. Let them know that they are not alone. Around 85% of older adults have at least one chronic illness, and around 60% have at least two. Discuss health concerns and set up regular appointments with their physician to ensure that you can address health issues early.
- The Fear of Losing Loved Ones: The loss of a friend or loved one is devastating at any age. Advanced age, however, means the loss of more loved ones more frequently. This can lead to depression, loneliness, and thoughts about the senior’s own mortality. What will happen if my spouse dies? Who will care for my loved ones if I die? What if my caregiver passes before I do? To ease fears about losing loved ones, help the senior build up a strong support system of family, friends, church fellowship, etc. Work with an attorney to create a will for both the senior and yourself as the caregiver. Outline what will happen if you should pass before the senior, who will take over care, how care will be paid for, etc. to help the senior feel more secure about the future.
- The Fear of Losing Independence: The ability to go where we want when we want is something that we often take for granted. But when faced with the idea that they might have to give up the car keys or rely on someone else for help, many seniors find themselves afraid of losing their independence. As a senior loved one’s mental or physical ability begins to decline, it can be tempting to want to take charge and do everything for them. However, helping seniors maintain as much independence as possible is very important. Ask them if you can help instead of taking over. Have them help with tasks you know they can do without trouble, such as folding laundry. Hire a caregiver, such as those at Senior HomeCare of Tucson, to ensure the senior can have transportation to appointments and events without feeling as though they have to ask you to take them everywhere.
- The Fear of Leaving Home: Home is a place of sanctuary and comfort, and many seniors have lived in their own homes for decades. The memories, rituals, and familiarity of home keep us grounded. The idea of having to move to a care facility can be devastating for an older person. To help allay this fear, discuss options that can help your loved one age in place safely, such as home care services.
- The Fear of Loneliness: Forming new friendships and deepening relationships tends to get harder with age. People have their own lives and families to tend to, and getting together for coffee or lunch can get more and more difficult. Add to that the loss of a spouse and the inability to drive, and feelings of loneliness can grow. The risk of isolation and depression is very real for older adults, and family caregivers must make an effort to ensure that senior loved ones have opportunities to get out of the house if possible and engage with family and friends. Going to church, attending a play, or even a daily phone call can help stave off feelings of loneliness in seniors. A professional caregiver can also be a welcome companion for seniors.
A certain amount of fear and anxiety is normal with age, but fear shouldn’t keep seniors from living their best lives. Senior HomeCare of Tucson is committed to helping older adults stay active, engaged, and independent while remaining safe in the comfort of home. Contact our home caregivers in Tucson and the surrounding areas at (520) 355-4787 to learn more about our services.