An older woman who is one of many experiencing anxiety in seniors is comforted by her husband as they gaze out the window together.

Why Anxiety in Seniors Is Increasing – And How You Can Help

Is there an older adult in your life who’s facing challenges with getting a good night’s sleep, finding joy in activities, or connecting with friends and family? Before attributing these issues solely to the natural process of aging, let’s consider another common factor that might be at play: anxiety.

Anxiety in seniors may not look the way you’d expect. Signs can include:

  • Nightmares
  • Overreacting
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Repetitive behaviors

It could also be displayed through physical symptoms such as:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Nausea

What’s Causing a Senior Loved One’s Anxiety?

It’s important to note that there isn’t always a clear-cut cause for anxiety in older individuals. Instead, it’s often influenced by a mix of environmental and situational factors that are commonly associated with aging, such as:

  • Health and mobility challenges
  • Medication side effects
  • Grief
  • Loss of independence 
  • Childhood trauma
  • And various other factors

Common Types of Anxiety in Seniors:

There are specific types of anxiety that may be affecting your family member. For instance:

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD drives individuals to perform repetitive actions to manage unwanted compulsions or thoughts, providing a sense of control in challenging situations. For instance, a person might feel the need to repeatedly check that the oven is turned off or count the tiles on the floor before leaving their home.
  • Phobias: These are intense fears related to specific objects or situations. For example, someone may experience heightened anxiety only when facing medical appointments, thunderstorms, insects, heights, or other specific triggers.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: This type of anxiety is marked by extreme self-consciousness and nervousness in social settings, leading individuals to avoid socializing and hindering their ability to build and maintain social connections.

Ways to Assist a Senior With Anxiety:

If you’re concerned about an older loved one dealing with anxiety, there are several steps you can take.

  • First, schedule an appointment with the senior’s primary care physician. They can explore various treatment options, including prescription medications, counseling, and lifestyle adjustments.
  • Encourage them to prioritize a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can increase anxiety by as much as 30%.
  • Educate them about the importance of avoiding caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other stimulants, as these substances can exacerbate anxiety.
  • Create a safe space for the person to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. This can be immensely helpful and liberating for them.

In addition to these steps, Senior HomeCare of Tucson is here to provide valuable support. Our caregivers make excellent companions for older adults, offering a listening ear and engaging in calming, enjoyable activities. We can also assist with meal preparation and promote stress management techniques, among other services.

If you’d like more information on how we can help someone you love who is battling anxiety, please reach out to us at (520) 355-4787 for more information on our customized in-home care in Oro Valley, Catalina, Tucson, and the surrounding areas.

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