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Reduce Anxiety in Aging and Focus on Positive Health and Wellness

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Photo Credit: Katya_Alagich via Compfight cc

Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental illnesses, and about 10% of adults aged 65 and older have a diagnosable anxiety disorder? (Byers, Yaffe, Covinsky, Friedman, & Bruce, 2010). Often as people age we think that there is less stress, less of a reason for anxiety, and therefore it can often go unnoticed. We need to reduce anxiety related health issues in elderly adults and work on finding healthy solutions.  

It is important to understand that not only are there different levels of anxiety, but there are different kinds of anxiety that may be impacting a loved one:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Specific Phobia
  • Panic Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

These anxiety issues may not be something that your loved one even realizes that they are struggling with and may be impacting their day-to-day health and wellness.  Often when someone is struggling with an anxiety we think that there would be obvious signs in their mood changes, and while that can be a distinction, there may be some additional signs including:

  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, or other aches and pains may be a symptom related to persistent anxiety
  • Changes in eating habits – either overeating as a calming mechanism or undereating due to feeling sick to their stomach and nervous
  • Sleeping patterns or quality of sleep may change if they are having bad dreams or for someone who has a lot on their mind and can’t stop thinking about their fears
  • Social isolation including not leaving their home or not pursuing things they used to be interested in because of nerves

Any of these habits can play into your overall health and wellbeing impacting your body and potentially causing other diseases or care concerns. Of course it may be difficult to identify the anxiety disorder and know how to help your loved one as they start aging. Here at Fedelta we believe that all health and wellness related concerns should be discussed with a care professional. It is possible to reduce anxiety, receive professional help, and maintain a healthy lifestyle while managing the anxiety disorder.

So, what is your next step? You have several options to help assist your loved one and check to see if they have any anxiety as they age.

  • Accompany them to their next general doctor’s appointment. Ask questions, encourage them to open up about their eating habits, sleep schedule, any aches or pains they may be experiencing and don’t be afraid to ask the doctor if there are any concerns related to overall health by associating all of these concerns.
  • Invite your loved one to attend a health seminar where they are specifically discussing anxiety related concerns. Try to get your loved one to open up about any of their health concerns.
  • Enlist a professional care manager to support your loved one with reducing their anxiety and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Care Managers can accompany your loved one to their doctor’s appointments, they can get a better understanding of the specific anxiety triggers for your loved one, and they know overall physical, mental, social, and environmental impacts and how to live independently and safely.

Fedelta has Care Managers on staff, who have helped clients reduce their anxiety. She understands the challenges that seniors face as they age and know how to compassionately care for their needs and set realistic wellness goals. If you are interested in learning more about our home care and care management services please reach out at 206.785.3622. 

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