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 what's 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 the challenges of family and career are making life overwhelming and difficult to care for a loved one in need of assistance, we can help. Today’s families have very busy lifestyles so many times family members want to help and in many cases try to help but generally it is only a matter of time before it all becomes overwhelming trying to juggle too many tasks at one time. For most just knowing that companies like ours are here when you need support and an extra set of caring hands make the process less stressful and smooth.
Should a loved one need help, call us today 770-442-8664!
Easy Living Services, Inc.
Providing Home Care to Atlanta families since 1994