While most people experience anxiety to some degree, the elderly seem to be particularly vulnerable. This may be due to the numerous changes that are taking place in rapid succession such as retirement, decreasing social networks and changes in the home environment. Physical changes may result in chronic pain, decreasing mobility or the inability to perform the daily tasks of living. Some medications have anxiety as a side effect. As a family caregiver, it’s important to be aware of the signs of anxiety in order to get your loved one the care they need.
Signs in the Elderly
The signs of anxiety in the elderly seem to differ from their younger counterparts. They often describe anxiety as it relates to a physical complaint such as a stomach disorder. Because of this, they often seek medical attention from their primary health care providers instead of a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, primary care physicians are not always equipped to recognize the underlying anxiety that is producing the physical symptoms. If your loved one experienced anxiety in their younger years, they have a greater chance of its reoccurrence as they age. According to a study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, more than 27 percent of older adults have symptoms of anxiety sufficient to impact their daily functioning.
Types and Causes
There are several different types of anxiety. These include phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, as well as acute stress that develops after a trauma and generalized anxiety which is characterized by an everyday habit of excessive worry. According to an evidence-based review in Current Psychiatry, “Among older adults, presence of a 12-month anxiety disorder was associated with being female, lower education, being unmarried, and having three or more chronic conditions.”
If you notice your parent exhibiting symptoms such as changing sleep patterns, excessive worry, increasing alcohol intake or prescription medicine abuse, an increasing tendency to panic and reoccurring fearful thoughts, contact a mental health care provider and set up an appointment for your parent. The sooner anxiety is detected and treated, the better the chances of reversing the symptoms. Treatment usually consists of a combination of talk therapy and medications. Because of drug interactions and increasing susceptibility to the side-effects of medications as one ages, drug treatments should be carefully monitored and started at the lowest effective dose.
Home Care Provider
It helps to have someone present when fear and worry invade a person’s mind. Consider obtaining a home care provider to help your parent with the daily activities of living as well as provide a confidant and companion. Listening and sharing conversation is an important part of their services as well as keeping your parent active and socially engaged.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring professional home care services in San Francisco, CA, call the caring staff at Aviva In-Home Care. Call today: (415) 795-2203
At Aviva, we also use the latest in health technology to maximize opportunities for communication between all members of our client’s care circles. We utilize nursing oversight to ensure that we are in compliance with physician orders, and that our careplans are being properly administered. Lastly, Aviva is a proud member of The Senior’s Choice, a national network of leading home care agencies that share best practices and focus on continual improvement.
As owner of the business, I also promise to you my direct involvement in your loved ones care, and will always make myself available for feedback and improvements in our service. I look forward to working with you and your loved one on creating a care plan that is perfectly suited to the family's needs. Thank you for considering Aviva as your care partner.