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Top Tips for Helping Seniors Experiencing Anxiety

As we get older, there can be lots of change. This, along with issues such as declining health and mobility, can result in an increase in anxiety for older adults. Experiencing anxiety can impact a person’s quality of life and their general health. At Home Care Assistance, our Care Professionals are trained to look for signs of anxiety and support the people they care for who have anxiety. We have put together this blog to give you tips on signs of anxiety, possible causes, and things that can be done to help.

Signs of Anxiety – The signs of anxiety can show differently from person to person. Therefore, it is important to be aware that it might not display the way you expect.

  • Persistent worrying or excessive concern about everyday activities
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, or stomach problems without any medical cause
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Avoidance of social activities or withdrawal from previously enjoyed hobbies
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Increased heart rate or breathing, even when not physically exerting oneself
  • Experiencing panic attacks, which may include sudden feelings of intense fear or impending doom
  • Changes in appetite, either eating more or less than usual
  • Feeling constantly on edge or tense
  • Increased use of alcohol or other substances to cope with feelings of anxiety

Causes of Anxiety – The later years of life can be a time of significant worry or change. Some of the possible causes of anxiety in older Australians include:

  • Health Concerns: Aging often brings about various health issues, chronic pain, or concerns about mortality, which can contribute to anxiety.
  • Life Transitions: Retirement, loss of loved ones, or becoming empty nesters can trigger feelings of uncertainty and anxiety about the future.
  • Financial Worries: Concerns about managing finances on a fixed income or worries about the cost of healthcare can lead to anxiety.
  • Social Isolation: Reduced social interactions due to retirement, mobility issues, or the loss of friends and family members can increase loneliness and anxiety.
  • Cognitive Changes: Fear of cognitive decline or memory loss can lead to anxiety, especially in older adults who are aware of potential age-related changes in cognitive function.
  • Caregiver Stress: Older adults who are caregivers for spouses or other family members may experience anxiety related to the responsibilities and challenges of caregiving.
  • Trauma or Past Experiences: Previous traumatic events or experiences, such as war, abuse, or loss, can resurface in later years and contribute to anxiety.
  • Medication Side Effects: Some medications commonly prescribed to older adults may have side effects that contribute to feelings of anxiety.
  • Changes in Independence: Loss of independence due to physical limitations or the need for assistance with daily activities can be distressing and lead to anxiety.

What Can You Do to Help? – Fortunately, there are lots of things that can be done to help your loved one. Sometimes there will be specific actions you can take depending on the cause of the anxiety. However, general things you can do include:

  • Urging your loved one to avoid stimulants which can increase anxiety including caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • Encourage them to go to the doctor and go with them if you think their anxiety may be caused by medication or a medical condition. Their doctor can also be a helpful resource if your loved one’s anxiety is out of control, and they need further support.
  • Encourage good sleep and exercise habits. A good sleep routine can help with anxiety, as can exercise. If your loved one has not been doing any exercise, you may need to consult their doctor to find out what sort of exercise might be suitable.
  • Talk to your loved one. Providing them with the space to talk about their feelings and anxieties is helpful and can help you work out how to support them. It is important not to pass judgment when they are talking to you about their anxieties and remember that even if you do not think the issue is a problem, your loved one does and needs your support. Helping your loved one with anxiety is not usually a matter of just addressing this once. It is an ongoing process so keep the communication channels open. The earlier your loved one can talk to you about their anxieties, the sooner you can support them to address the underlying issue to minimise their anxiety.
  • Consider home care. If your loved one is struggling to control their anxiety due to difficulties with daily tasks or is getting anxious being alone, engaging a Care Professional may help.

Support of a home care agency like Home Care Assistance, can bring enormous benefit and comfort to your quality of life while living independently at home.  Home Care Assistance has viable solutions

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