Isolation, lack of social support, health concerns, and other factors may contribute to feelings of anxiety in seniors. Although this feeling is normal, this is not something to keep secretive or should be handled on your own. It’s good to recognize and acknowledge anxiety, then find healthy ways to cope with that anxiety.
To help, we put together this list of doctor-recommended coping strategies for seniors dealing with anxiety. When it comes to anxiety, just remember that you are not alone. Here at Daystar Retirement Village, we are here to support you and your loved one. Our experienced staff help our residents figure out how to deal with anxiety and manage senior health issues overall. In addition, we offer regular activities that help our residents avoid being in isolation at home and instead get them connected to other residents and build a support system.
Anxiety in Seniors
What is the relationship between age and anxiety in the elderly? Senior anxiety is a very common experience for older adults, yet it’s not a regular part of the aging process. This means that if you experience anxiety, you shouldn’t ignore it or view it as a natural part of getting older. Instead, it’s something to manage and find ways to cope with.
Symptoms of anxiety in the elderly may vary by person and the type of anxiety they are experiencing. While there are other types of anxiety disorders, the ones you are most likely to experience are generalized anxiety disorder or phobia. The first has symptoms that include excessive and constant worry about everyday life, expecting the worst-case scenarios, and physical symptoms like muscle tension, fatigue, or nausea. Phobia, as you probably know, has symptoms of exaggerated fear over a generally unthreatening thing, such as going outside or talking to other people.
It’s also possible that you have some anxiety without meeting the qualifications of an anxiety disorder diagnosis. This doesn’t make the experience less serious. Anxiety has symptoms like excessive fear or worry and may show itself through physical symptoms in your body as well.
Anxiety in older adults can also have similar triggers to people of other ages. Yet seniors can also experience specific anxieties related to aging. For example, you may be anxious that you will fall. Senior phobias tend to be of inanimate triggers or situations, so waves of anxiety can start at any given moment. Another scenario is that depression can show itself as anxiety in older adults compared to lethargy in younger adults.
Anxiety in Elderly Treatment
Whether you experience symptoms of anxiety or an anxiety disorder that could cause distress and get in the way of daily life, there are coping strategies to help. Doctors recommend that the first step is learning how to relieve anxiety naturally with non-pharmacological interventions such as positive coping methods.
Nonetheless, make sure you see a medical professional about your anxiety. It’s possible that senior anxiety is connected to a medical disorder, dementia, or health conditions, so your doctor should assess that to get the full picture of your health. It’s possible your doctor will recommend medication to help with your anxiety. These may include anxiety and/or depression medication, depending on the situation.
How to Relieve Anxiety
If you experience anxiety, which a doctor or mental health professional can diagnose, it’s important to acknowledge it and find healthy ways to cope. Here are doctor-recommended ways to relieve anxiety in older adults:
- Make Lifestyle Changes: This involves making positive changes to your life and having a consistent daily routine to cut down on stress and anxiety. Ways to prevent anxiety through positive lifestyle modifications include getting enough quality sleep, maintaining proper nutrition, getting exercise, and socializing.
- Try Therapy: Mental health therapy may help you address anxiety and find healthy ways to cope with it. You may want to try cognitive behavioral therapy to address unhealthy ways of thinking, or behavioral therapy that may include techniques such as desensitization, exposure, and response, relaxation, and others.
- Practice Mindfulness: This technique helps you to focus on what is happening in the present rather than letting your mind run away with fears and possibilities. Mindfulness encourages you to focus on current experiences such as your senses, reactions, emotions, and responses. It can help you to observe occurrences without feeling as much anxiety in relation to these circumstances.
- Try Relaxation Techniques: These could include simple home remedies for seniors like deep breathing, visualization, and other techniques that help calm the body and mind.
- Use Enjoyable Therapies or Activities: Try to find activities and therapies that could help personally cope with your anxiety. Examples include art therapy, music therapy or dance therapy. Other options are yoga, which can be adapted to different abilities, socializing or brain exercises.
Create a Personalized Anxiety-Relieving Box: Take a box and fill it with items that have helped you with anxiety in the past. For example, you could fill it with music, notes that trigger positive thoughts, pictures, hobbies, and ideas for steps to take when facing anxiety. You may want to include items that trigger your senses and to help you be in the moment. Another idea is to add a journal, if writing down your feelings and thoughts helps you.
A Retirement Community Can Help
At Daystar, we are experienced at helping our residents with their mental health and well-being. Our staff can assist with medication management and assess your mental health. We also provide many activities that can help cope with anxiety as well. For example, we offer exercise, hobbies, and socialization among our many options. You might find that a pet helps with your anxiety, and here at Daystar we have a dog-friendly community where you can bring your furry friend or add one to the family.
We offer different levels of care in our retirement community, including independent living, assisted living, and 55+ apartments to help you get the right level of care. Contact us to learn more, check our availability, and set up a tour.