5 WAYS TO HELP RELIEVE ANXIETY IN SENIORS! ! !
According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, anxiety is “one of the most common types of mental illness affecting people ages 60 and older.” In this post, you’ll find five different ways to alleviate anxiety in seniors.
1. Social Support
Seniors commonly experience feelings of loneliness and isolation due to the fact that they are often at least somewhat limited in their mobility and may have a diminished social circle. You may have a senior relative who is recently widowed, or who has moved away from a place in which they had friendships in order to be closer to family, or whose ability to get out into the community has been reduced by physical ailments. A sense of isolation can lead to anxiety and can exacerbate existing anxious feelings.
Therefore, one of the most important things you can do for an aging loved one suffering from anxiety is to make sure they have a network of social support in place. You are undoubtedly a source of companionship, comfort, and socialization for them, but it’s important to make sure they also have this support when you are not around. Companionship can be incredibly useful in reducing anxiety: for those suffering from anxious feelings, it can be a source of great relief to know that someone is there to listen, to check up on anything concerning, and to provide pleasant socialization throughout the day.
There are many ways to provide seniors with social support. If your elderly relative has friends in the area, make an active effort to help them spend quality time with their friends. If your senior loved one is fairly mobile, look into social programs at senior centers or volunteer opportunities they might enjoy. Your family members may want to visit your loved one on alternating days, joining them for dinner in the evening or accompanying them on errands. If none of these options are feasible, you may want to explore the possibility of getting some companion care for your loved one.
2. Calming exercises
For those who suffer from mild to moderate anxiety, calming exercises can be a useful way to ease symptoms. The Anxiety and depression association of America recommends breathing exercises: concentrating on taking slow and even breaths can offer some immediate relief in anxious situations. Counting to the same number during each inhale and exhale is a good way to help even out breathing, ex. breathe in for 1… 2… 3…. 4 and breathe out for 1… 2… 3… 4.
The ADAA also recommends counting in general. In an anxious moment, it can be useful to count to ten or twenty while focusing on breathing steadily and thinking calm thoughts.
Physical exercise has also been proven to help anxiety sufferers. While physical activity can be a challenge for some seniors, there are quite a few forms of low-impact exercise to choose from. Seniors can try light (sometimes referred to as ‘gentle’) yoga, tai chi, or going for walks. For seniors who are more mobile, activities like water aerobics are also a great option.
Listening to soothing sounds is another helpful coping strategy. Seniors can sit peacefully, attempting to relax all of their muscles and calm their breathing, and listen to a selection of quiet music, natural soundtracks like ocean waves or nighttime Forrest noises, or a radio program or audio book whose narrator has a calming voice.
3. Reassuring routines
Seniors with dementia often suffer from anxiety, understandably, since forgetting can lead to panic when a person believes things are not as they should be. If your loved one has dementia, one of the best ways to relieve a bit of their anxiety is to implement a steady routine in their lives. A routine eliminates some of the surprise that may cause anxious feelings by setting expectations that will be consistently met.
Routines are also beneficial for seniors who do not have dementia but do have anxious thoughts. Routines provide a predictable daily schedule, and this predictability can be calming. Routines can also provide purpose: if your senior loved one knows they’ll be going to the senior center each Thursday to play cards, it will provide them with something to look forward to, and they’ll have an outing and an opportunity for socialization.
4. Ease Nighttime stress
During the night, if seniors are upset or concerned about symptoms they’re experiencing, or a strange sound they’ve heard outside, they’re much less likely to pick up the phone and call a family member or friend: they don’t want to disturb anyone unless they’re sure that their concerns actually require attention. However, the fact of the matter is that anxiety also requires and deserves attention, just as a physical ailment or suspicious activity in the neighbourhood does.
So, how should you go about easing your senior loved one’s nighttime stress? There are numerous possibilities. Perhaps it would ease your loved one’s mind to know that you or another family member will call them around the time they retire and then again in the morning, just to check in. Maybe they tend to doze while they watch the evening news, and it might be useful to try to break them of this habit so that they can sleep more easily at night rather than being kept awake by their worries.
5. Consider professional help
your loved one is experiencing moderate to severe anxiety that cannot be eased by any of the aforementioned methods, it’s a good idea to set up an appointment with their doctor to discuss medical or psychological help. There is evidence that anti-anxiety medications can be very useful for seniors, while a smaller part of the senior population may respond positively to therapy.