Anxiety is a serious issue for older adults. Between three and fourteen percent of seniors experience symptoms that meet the criteria for diagnosable disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Even though they don’t have a diagnosable disorder, another 27 percent also experience symptoms of anxiety on a regular basis that have a significant impact on their day-to-day functioning.
If you have a parent or loved who may be struggling with anxiety, keep these four tips in mind to help them manage symptoms in a healthy way.
1. Recognize the Signs
The first step to helping a loved one manage anxiety is being able to identify their symptoms. Common signs of anxiety disorders include:
• Excessive fear or worry
• Refusing to do activities they used to enjoy
• Being obsessed with a routine
• Avoiding social interactions
• Sleep troubles
• Muscle aches and tension
• Shakiness or weakness
• Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs
2. Let Them Know You’re There for Them
Many seniors are hesitant to talk about their struggles because they don’t want to be a burden. If you think your parent or a loved one is dealing with anxiety, it’s important for them to know that you’re there for them and aren’t judging them.
3. Prevent Falls
As they age, seniors typically struggle with impaired balance, which can cause a lot of anxiety and make them worry about falling and getting hurt.
One way to show the senior in your life that you support them is to take steps to prevent falls and help them feel safe in their homes. Some ways you can do this include:
• Installing grab bars in the bathroom
• Removing loose rugs and other slip hazards
• Rearranging cupboards and cabinets so items are within easy reach
• Investing in a medical alert system
4. Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help
You should also encourage your parent or loved one to work with a professional.
Make an appointment with their doctor and let them know what you’ve noticed. You may also want to schedule an appointment with a therapist or hire a home care aide to come in and check on them a few times a week.
There are lots of things you can do to help a parent or loved one manage their anxiety in a healthy way. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with these four tips.