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The Red Flags of Senior Anxiety and How to Help

red flags of senior anxiety
Knowing the red flags of senior anxiety is a crucial first step in helping someone you love.

Is an older adult you love struggling with socializing, sleeping well or enjoying activities, or experiencing memory problems? Before chalking it up to the normal effects of getting older, consider another culprit: anxiety. Helping a loved one overcome this common condition begins with understanding these and other red flags of senior anxiety, such as:

  • Overreactions to whatever is triggering symptoms
  • Repetitive behaviors, such as handwashing
  • Obsessive thinking
  • Nightmares
  • Physical effects such as trembling, heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, and more

While there is not always a known cause for anxiety in seniors, it’s believed to be impacted by a variety of situational and environmental factors common to aging, including:

  • Loss (or perceived loss) of independence
  • Health and mobility complications
  • Medication side effects
  • Childhood trauma
  • Grief
  • And more

Common Types of Anxiety in Older Adults

Though a generalized anxiety disorder is often diagnosed, there are some more specific types of anxiety problems that are common in older adults, including:

  • Social anxiety disorder: This type of anxiety is displayed by extreme feelings of nervousness or self-consciousness in social situations. It can cause an individual to avoid socializing, limiting their ability to make and maintain connections with other people.
  • OCD: OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, drives an individual to perform repetitive actions in order to control unwanted compulsions or thoughts. This provides a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation. The individual may feel the need to make sure that the oven is switched off multiple times or count the number of tiles on the ground before leaving the home.
  • Phobias: Phobias are fears associated with a certain item or circumstance. For example, someone may experience heightened anxiety only if facing medical procedures or appointments, heights, thunderstorms, insects, etc.

How Can You Help a Senior With Anxiety?

If you’re noticing the red flags of senior anxiety, the first step is scheduling an appointment with the person’s primary care physician. There are effective treatment options, from prescription medications to counseling and changes in lifestyle. You can also:

  • Provide the person with a lot of opportunities to talk. Knowing they can trust you with their thoughts and feelings, without concern about judgment, can be extremely helpful and freeing.
  • Encourage them to get plenty of sleep every night. Lack of sleep can increase anxiety by as much as 30%, according to a study performed by the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Help the person understand the need to avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants, which may worsen anxiety.

Home Sweet Home In-Home Care is here to help as well. A caregiver makes a great companion for an older adult to talk to and engage with enjoyable, calming activities. We can also prepare healthy meals, encourage the utilization of stress management techniques, and much more. Contact us at (866) 229-2505 for more information on how we can help someone you love with personalized home care services in Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Paw Paw, St. Joseph, and the surrounding areas.

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