Anxiety is a real struggle for many older adults. Faced with a lot of overwhelming life changes, from retirement to decline of health to lack of independence, your aging parents can easily slip into the worrying trap.
While anxiety can manifest in physical, visible symptoms, most seniors go unaided, precisely because they don’t believe that anxiety is a real problem and therefore, doesn’t warrant help. It’s then crucial to be especially discerning when it comes to changes in their behaviors.
More importantly, you need to know how you can help them through these struggles. Here are some ways to do just that.
Offer Social Support
Anxiety grows worse when seniors are left isolated. In other instances, being alone is the very trigger for such a problem. So, when you and your adult siblings move out of the house or one parent passes away, you have to be sensitive to your parent’s need for social connectedness.
Visit them every so often. Or better yet, let a relative live with them. This doesn’t just ensure that they have a companion always, but also a helper for the chores around the house.
Encourage your loved one to continue meeting their friends, too. Drive them to the local senior community center. If your loved one uses heavy mobility aids, you may use a wheelchair hoist lift for your car for hassle-free loading and unloading. Do as much as you can to keep their social networks active.
Seniors who have dementia almost always suffer anxiety as a result of declining brain health. You would notice them constantly moving around or getting upset immediately. Often, it’s triggered by a change in environment or scenery. What you need then is something stable or consistent. What you need is a carefully planned out schedule every day.
This will reduce “surprises” and hopefully provide reassurance on your loved one. Routines also provide your relative something to look forward to throughout the week. When they get used to seeing their peers on a Friday or gardening in the afternoons, that would create joy and dismiss negative feelings of loneliness and isolation urges. When planning out routines, don’t go far and stick to the habits they already loved.
Take Them to the Doctor
In situations where your loved one is dealing with moderate to severe anxiety, consult professionals already. They’ll be able to diagnose better what’s happening to your loved one and give them the treatment they need. Some doctors recommend anti-anxiety medications.
Before prescribing though, they would check your relative’s medical history and ask you for the kinds of meds your parent is already taking. Other doctors may suggest therapy. But again, this will depend on your loved one’s health. When lifestyle changes do little to relieve your relative’s anxiety, that’s a signal that medical interventions are necessary. Encourage your loved one to be willing to get help.
Anxiety is a common struggle of aging adults, experiencing a lot of changes in their lives. At times, the restlessness would seem unreasonable to you, but never invalidate your loved one’s feelings. Rather, help them overcome this problem and find relief and peace.