Understanding and Treating Anxiety Disorders in Older Adults

Anxiety disorders in older adults are common and should be addressed by a physician.

While there is much to celebrate in aging, it also brings with it several challenges. For some older adults, the changes that come with aging can bring about anxiety. While anxiety is a regular part of life and a common feeling in a variety of situations, if the anxiety gets to a point where it feels overwhelming and interferes with day-to-day life, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders in older adults are a mental health issue that frequently goes undiagnosed.

Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Because mental health is as important as physical health for older adults, the Florida care experts at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care know the importance of whole person care. To follow are some of the common symptoms of anxiety disorders:

  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Restlessness
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble with memory and focus
  • Refusal to participate in routine activities
  • Overwhelming feelings of panic, fear, and/or apprehension
  • Repetitive/ritualistic behaviors (i.e.: repeated handwashing)
  • Reactions that are disproportional to the triggering fear

In addition to these symptoms, a variety of physical signs may accompany anxiety disorders, such as:

  • Sweaty or cold hands
  • Heart palpitations or racing heart
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent urination
  • Tense muscles
  • Trembling
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea

Because these symptoms can interfere with enjoying and participating in daily life, it is important for older adults to see a doctor. Anxiety disorders are chronic health conditions that cannot be willed away. What’s more, anxiety can have a serious impact on an older adult’s physical health.

Common Anxiety Disorders in Older Adults

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder in older adults. Seniors with GAD worry about a variety of things and constantly feel on edge and in a high state of alert. They fear the worst in most every situation, even if the fear is unlikely. Older adults with GAD often recognize that their nervousness is excessive, but they are unable to gain control over their emotions. GAD affects both women and men but is more common in women.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Older adults with social anxiety disorder feel extremely self-conscious and nervous in day-to-day situations with people. It is common for older adults with this form of anxiety to fear judgment from others and to be overly concerned that they will do something to embarrass themselves. Social anxiety disorder may cause seniors to avoid social situations and it is often hard for them to make and maintain friendships.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Older adults with OCD have recurring thoughts or compulsions. They may feel that performing a specific action in the same way each time provides a sense of control.

Treatment Options for Older Adults with Anxiety

Anxiety is considered a chronic health condition that requires medical treatment, just like high blood pressure. Anxiety is not something that should make an older adult should feel ashamed. The two most common approaches to treat anxiety, which are frequently done in conjunction with one another, are:

  • Talk therapy. Talk therapy or counseling is a series of one-on-one meetings with a counselor or therapist. Therapy sessions often take place weekly and help the older adult discuss his or her feelings with a trained individual who can offer strategies to manage anxiety.
  • Prescription medications. Medications prescribed by a doctor can help alleviate feelings of nervousness or panic in older adults so that they can patriciate and engage in life to the fullest.

Expert Help in the Comfort of Home

The compassionate referred care providers at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care can help older adults with anxiety disorders in a variety of ways, from providing transportation to medical and therapy appointments to offering consistent, friendly companionship and socialization opportunities, and everything in between.

To help ensure the physical and mental health of an older adult you love, contact the office nearest you to discover all the ways in-home care services help older Floridians thrive.

  • American In-Home Care – Serving North, Central, and West Coast of Florida
  • Advocate In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
  • Whitsyms In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
  • State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661