A woman who is aware of anxiety disorders in seniors watches for common signs in her older mother and knows how she can offer support.

Aging is accompanied by a host of common changes. Shifts in eating and sleeping habits, memory, and interests in certain activities are oftentimes linked to the natural process of growing older. Yet, these very changes can sometimes be indicative of a frequently overlooked and untreated condition in older adults: anxiety disorders.

What Other Signs Could Point to Anxiety in Older Adults?

Along with the red flags noted above, an older adult with anxiety may experience:

  • Nightmares
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling
  • A racing heart
  • The need for repetition in certain activities, such as handwashing
  • Nausea
  • Obsessive thinking
  • Extreme overreactions
  • And more

What Causes Anxiety in Older Adults?

There are a number of contributing factors for anxiety in older adults, including:

  • A chronic health condition
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Side effects from medications
  • Challenges with mobility
  • Feeling as if they have lost their freedom
  • Trauma from their past
  • And more

What Are the Most Common Types of Anxiety Disorders?

In many instances, the doctor will diagnose an individual with generalized anxiety disorder, which covers a broad array of types of anxiety. In addition, there are three specific anxiety disorders that could be diagnosed:

  • Social anxiety disorder: Social anxiety disorder occurs when the person experiences extreme nervousness or self-consciousness in social situations. This can be debilitating, leading the individual to avoid socializing altogether, something that is harmful for both their physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Also known as OCD, this condition causes the individual to go through specific rituals, often repeatedly, to manage unwanted thoughts or compulsions. These behaviors, such as washing hands over and over again or checking to make sure the door is locked multiple times, provide a feeling of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
  • Phobias: Phobias are fears of a very specific object or situation. The individual may, for instance, feel particularly fearful of dental or doctor visits, insects, thunderstorms, the dark, being alone, etc.

How Can You Help an Older Adult With Anxiety?

The good news is there are successful treatment options available for individuals with anxiety, ranging from medications to counseling to changes in lifestyle. To begin with, schedule an appointment with the physician for a diagnosis and recommendations. Additionally, you can:

  • Speak with the person frequently, allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings. Simply listening without judgment will help instill a feeling of calm and self-worth in your loved one.
  • Encourage better sleeping habits if needed. A recent research study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, revealed that insufficient sleep can elevate anxiety up to 30%.
  • Recommend steering clear of nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants, all of which can heighten anxiety.

How Home Care Can Help

At-Home Care Company can assist in many ways to ease anxiety for older adults. Our caregivers are wonderful companions for conversations, calming activities, and exercise. We can also grocery shop, provide medication reminders, offer transportation to therapy or medical appointments, and much more.

Our award-winning in-home care services are available in Huxley, Story City, Ames, and nearby communities. Contact us any time at 515-292-2650 for more information on how we can help someone you love.