Helping Your Elder Deal with Anxiety
Mental health is often an overlooked and even ignored issue, especially in elders. This is for a variety of reasons, including the unfair stigmatization of mental illness, the inability to physically see the issue, and the feeling that talking about it exposes a vulnerability and weakness that elders often feel they are not meant to exhibit. Here at Main Line Adult Day Center, we want to break down the barriers and talk about mental health for seniors, and today we’re talking about anxiety.
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety will affect up to 15% of the elder population in the US, but it’s rarely talked about. Reasons for the development of anxiety vary so widely that sufferers may not even know what the root cause is themselves, making it even harder to treat and talk about. Major factors include particular circumstances or events such as losing a loved one, suffering from extreme stress, neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, hereditary predisposition to anxiety, and the abuse of alcohol, caffeine or drugs. Another major cause that particularly affects the elderly is a fear of death or a major accident or health issue such as a debilitating fall or a potentially fatal complication such as a heart attack or stroke.
Identifying the signs
Anxiety manifests itself in different ways and it varies from person to person. Typical symptoms include a racing heartbeat, shallow yet quick breathing, trembling, sweating, hot flushes, insomnia, and a “feeling of impending doom”. If you care for an elderly loved one, it’s likely that you won’t notice these issues unless they confide in you, but behavioral changes may also be a giveaway. Anxious elders are likely to become overly preoccupied with routine, may retreat from social situations, or may even become over obsessive about a single issue. Mood swings, excessive worry, and depression are also all telltale signs of anxiety.
How serious is it?
Anxiety is often overlooked as simply a temporary issue, but this is not always the case. If you or your loved one experiences anxiety for over six months, it may indicate an anxiety disorder. Not only can this be very unpleasant, but it’s also limiting both socially and physically. It may also lead to self-medication through the use of drugs or alcohol, or even to more severe mental health issues such as depression. It’s important that anxiety is not ignored or treated as a minor health issue! The consequences can be drastic and ultimately highly debilitating.
The light at the end of the tunnel
Those who suffer from anxiety often feel isolated and like nobody understands their situation and as a result, it can be difficult in getting them to seek help. If you or a loved one are suffering like this, it’s important to know that there are specialists out there to help you learn to deal with anxiety and ultimately eliminate it. In some situations, simple changes such as increased exercise or increased social engagement may be all that is required. Other times, the causal factors may be hidden more deeply, requiring the need for specialist psychological therapy. The main point to remember is that nobody out there should be allowed to suffer in silence!
Main Line Adult Day Center offers adult day treatment for seniors in the Philadelphia area. We offer a relaxing space where seniors can spend their time in a sociable yet safe environment that helps dispel fears that cause anxiety. If you or your loved one suffers from anxiety, head to Main Line Adult Day Center to see how our facilities can bring you in from the cold and relieve those anxiety-causing fears.