As the adult child or caregiver for an elderly person, you’re likely paying attention to any changes in their physical, mental or emotional well-being. One change that you may see in them is increasing worry or fear; anxiety is an issue for many aging seniors.
There can be many causes including fear of death, worry over the state of their family or the world today, or of increasing health issues. The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation estimates that up to 20% of seniors are affected by anxiety. Anxiety disorders in the elderly are often untreated; the older adult may not recognize or identify their feelings as anxiety. When they do, they may hesitate to discuss those feelings with their physician, however untreated anxiety can lead to cognitive impairment, a decline in physical health, and a lower quality of life.
If you suspect anxiety is affecting your loved one’s life, be calm in your conversations with them. Recognize their fears, if they express them, but be reassuring and supportive. Encourage them to engage in activities, either social activities with others, or things that will occupy their mind such as puzzles, writing letters, or other things they enjoy.
Anxiety in the elderly may also tie to risk factors including:
- Chronic health issues such as cardiovascular disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Sleep disturbances
- Side effects from prescription medications
- Declining health
- Negative life events
These issues place more stress on the senior and may need to be discussed with his or her physician. Anxiety does not need to be “something they just live with”.
Be on the lookout for simple things that your family member brings up that concern them. It may be something simple like fretting over keeping the cat’s litter box clean, or feeling that they can’t prepare meals and tidy up afterward. When those same type of topics come up repeatedly, it may be a sign that the person is struggling to do the things they’ve always done. It may also be an indication that they aren’t as comfortable living at home and keeping up with daily life.
At FootPrints Home Care, our caregivers help support the senior in their home, providing care that they need. That may mean help with showering or dressing, or it may mean cleaning the litter box and preparing meals. We’re here to help your family as you care for your loved one, either though occasional or respite home care, all the way to 24/7 home care for the senior. Our caregivers also provide companionship which can ease the anxiety of aging and the loneliness of living alone. If we can be of service to your family, please give us a call. We provide at-home care for seniors across the greater Albuquerque and Santa Fe region.