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What Causes Anxiety in Older Adults and How to Recognize It

May 17, 2022

Mental health is a critical aspect of well-being that unfortunately continues to lack the share of attention and necessary treatment that it deserves. As many as 14.5% of those aged 82 and over are experiencing anxiety symptoms, and a term used to describe a psychological state of feeling nervous or worried. Many of those individuals have been struggling with anxiety for a lifetime under the misconception that what they are experiencing is normal. Others have developed anxiety as they age due to a variety of reasons.

What is Causing Anxiety in Elders?

Anxiety in seniors often presents itself differently than in younger adults; understanding the factors contributing to it is the first step in recognizing it and, most importantly, helping those experiencing it.

  • Changing health needs/onset of chronic health conditions
  • Side effects from medication
  • Fear of becoming a burden to family members
  • Bereavement
  • Moving from a lifelong home to a personal care setting
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Fear of aging

How Anxiety Presents Differently in Older Adults

Research has shown that older adults are less likely to report anxiety than their younger counterparts. Still, they are more likely to be experiencing feelings of genuine fear and apprehension surrounding life stressors. According to The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, symptoms of anxiety in older adults can be physical or emotional and might include:

  • Changes in heart rate and breathing
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Hoarding behavior
  • Feeling tense, weak, or shaky
  • Feeling excessive worry
  • Depression

If you or someone you care about is experiencing anxiety, discuss the situation with your doctor. Many options for treatment exist, ranging from medication to professional counseling to stress reduction techniques, such as meditation and coping skill development. Feeling anxious is not something anyone needs to endure alone; by knowing what causes it and how it presents in older adults, we can uncover ways to manage it and limit its effect on the quality of life.

Guided by our Quaker values, at The Hickman, we care for our residents in a way that recognizes and respects the whole person. Our individualized care includes the expertise of various professionals working together to promote an exceptional quality of life and well-being for each of the loved ones in our community. Contact us to schedule a tour and see why “When You’re Here, You’re Home”.