Anxiety in Older Adults: Ways to Overcome It

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Anxiety is a common mental health condition among the elderly and is characterized by excessive nervousness, worrying, and fear. According to the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, about 10-20% of older adults are affected by anxiety or related disorders.

This article will discuss the main symptoms of geriatric anxiety, its types, and ways to cope with these disorders.

Symptoms of Geriatric Anxiety

In older adults, anxiety disorders usually present with the following symptoms:

  • Irrational feelings of worry or fear.
  • Excessive nervousness.
  • Avoidance of certain social situations that may trigger the symptoms.
  • Irrational concerns about safety. For instance, we may check the security alarms and locks repetitively.
  • Irrational thoughts, irritability, and memory issues.
  • Physical symptoms include nausea, sweating, palpitations, chest pain, lightheadedness, headache, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite or hyperphagia (increased appetite), and hot flashes.

In some cases, geriatric anxiety may go undiagnosed because people may consider these symptoms normal mental health changes. That’s why it is essential to observe and take these symptoms seriously.

Types of Geriatric Anxiety

Based on the symptoms, geriatric anxiety is usually classified into the following common types:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) refers to excessive and persistent anxiety symptoms for at least six months. In old age, GAD may present with excessive stress about health, family, and death-related issues.

Social anxiety disorders, also known as social phobia, present with preoccupied anxiety and self-conscious behavior regarding everyday social situations. In this order, we may feel persistent and irrational fear of being judged by others. These feelings can make it hard for us to keep our social circle intact.

Specific phobias are the severe and irrational fear of a specific situation, event, place, or thing (that poses minimal or no threat). These situations may include but are not limited to fear of death, chronic diseases, family issues, and dental procedures in old age. We may experience the symptoms of anxiety even thinking about a specific situation.

Ways to Overcome Geriatric Anxiety

Following measures can help us overcome anxiety or related disorders in old age,

  1. Social and family support is crucial in managing anxiety in old age. We should keep our social circle intact and share our thoughts and fears with the people around us.
  2. Stress reduction therapies such as meditation, yoga, and others can also help us reduce stress levels. Reduced stress levels can make us less prone to old-age anxiety.
  3. Psychotherapy, also called talkative therapy, can help us change negative behaviors such as irrational fears, stress, etc. These behavior modifications can assist us in overcoming the symptoms of geriatric anxiety.
  4. Medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers can be prescribed by the physician to alleviate the symptoms of geriatric anxiety.

Moreover, Unified Caring Association (UCA) has organized a filling Performa that can help us cope with stress and anxiety in old age.

Take Home

Old age can make us prone to anxiety and related disorders mainly characterized by excessive nervousness and irrational fears. To cope with old age anxiety, we should keep our social circle intact, follow stress-reducing therapies and take psychotherapy from a mental health professional. We can also take help from a filling Performa, prepared by UCA to cope with geriatric anxiety.

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