Feelings of anxiety and nervousness is a common emotion for people of all ages and a normal reaction to stress. We all have anxiety...worrying about the future is human nature and helps us plan for whats ahead. Felling anxious often turns into anxiety and this becomes overwhelming which negatively affects all aspects of life.
Anxiety is becoming an increasingly common illness that now affects as many as 15-30 percent of our senior population. Although it is often undiagnosed, if left untreated, anxiety can lead to cognitive impairment, disability, physical health issues, and a poor quality of life.
Seniors with anxiety disorders often go untreated for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is because they don’t recognize or acknowledge their symptoms…and when they do, they may be reluctant to discuss their feelings with their loved ones and their physicians. Some senior adults don't seek treatment because they have suffered symptoms of anxiety for most of their lives and believe that these feelings are normal. In some instances physicians can miss a diagnosis of anxiety simply because of other medical conditions and/or prescription drug use, or particular situations that the individual is currently dealing with.
Here are signs to help you recognize anxiety:
- Feelings of excessive worry or fear
- Ignoring routine activities OR being overly preoccupied with routine
- Avoiding social situations
- Overly concerned about safety
- Experiencing a racing heart, shallow breathing, trembling, nausea, or sweating
- Suffering from poor sleep
- Feeling muscle tension, weak, and/or shaky
- Issue with hoarding/collecting
- Self-medicating with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants
Follow these Do’s & Don’ts when dealing with a loved one who is faced with anxiety:
- Spend time talking about what they are experiencing
- Indicate that you've noticed a change in their behavior / emotions
- Let them know that you are there to listen WITHOUT being judgmental
- Highlight the option of seeing a doctor or health professional and if needed assist with making an appointment
- Go with the person to the doctor or health professional
- Check in with them - ask how their appointment went
- Assist them in finding information about anxiety or depression
- Talk openly about their feelings
- Encourage them to try to get enough sleep, exercise and to eat well
- Encourage them to use self-help strategies (e.g. breathing exercises, aromatherapy, yoga, positive reading material, etc.)
- Encourage them to face their fears with support from their doctor / psychologist
- Contact a doctor or hospital, if they become a threat to themselves or others.
- Pressure them to "just relax" or "calm down"
- Stay away or avoid the person
- Suggest that they manage how they're feeling with drugs or alcohol
- Assume that you can make them feel less anxious on your own
- Assume the problem will just go away.
It is not uncommon or unusual for a family caregiver who cares for a loved one to feel frustrated, angry, guilty, or even fearful while dealing with a loved one who is suffering with anxiety. Just remember that (1) You are not alone and help is available. Whether it’s from family, friends, a support group, or an agency specializing in providing professional caregivers….you can get help. (2) Avoid burnout. If you don't take care of you, you can't take care of others. Many times when caring for a loved one, it’s easy to forget about ourselves. Take time to make time for the things you enjoy.
If you are finding it difficult to juggle it all - work, family, errands and other demands that often leave you over taxed. Where do you turn when a loved ones needs are more than you can manage on your own? What do you do when some of the care alternatives seem like a complication rather than a solution? We understand, in fact, we have been there.
Consult Atlanta's most trusted source for quality Home Care, Easy Living Services. Offering flexible care plans designed to guarantee safety, comfort, companionship and personal care and attention to your loved one at home.
Finally, a real solution. At last, peace of mind. Call us at 770-442-8664.