Everyone has experienced a sense of anxiety at some point in their life. It is a feeling of fear, uneasiness, and dread and can cause a variety of symptoms such as sweating, restlessness, and a rapid heartbeat. In-home healthcare is beneficial in these situations as many times clients will express their feelings to their caregiver before telling a family member.
Anxiety that does not go away becomes an anxiety disorder. The following are four types of anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): People with GAD worry about everyday issues such as work, money, health, and family excessively.
Panic Disorder: Those with panic disorder experience panic attacks which are sudden, repeated periods of immense fear with no real danger present.
Phobias: People with phobias have an intense fear about something that can cause little or no harm to them, such as flying, being in social situations, or being in crowded places.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD can develop after someone has experienced a traumatic event where they, a loved one, or even a stranger was physically harmed or had a threat of physical harm. Symptoms do not always develop right away; they could begin to emerge months or even years after the event. Sometimes this disorder can be triggered by a change in lifestyle, such as new usage of a wheelchair, or to specific triggers that bring up old memories.
Anxiety’s Effect on Seniors
Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms observed in seniors, affecting 10-20% of all seniors. The most common anxiety disorder in seniors is GAD, with 7.3% of all seniors diagnosed with it. However, these numbers likely do not reflect the actual percentage of seniors affected by anxiety.
Many times, anxiety in seniors goes undiagnosed. This may be because they do not want to discuss their feelings with their doctor. Or, they may have had these feelings for most of their life and now believe it to be normal. Anxiety may also go undiagnosed because it is missed due to other medical conditions or medication use.
Anxiety that is left untreated can lead to disability, cognitive impairment, poor physical health, and a poor quality of life. Because of this, it is important to properly diagnose and treat it. Home health aides, CNAs, and caregivers are especially beneficial in recognizing anxiety symptoms in seniors since they are well-aware of what to look for.
Risk factors that caregivers and home health aides watch for as indications of anxiety include:
- difficulty sleeping
- a general feeling of poor health
- physical limitations in daily activities
- prescription medication or alcohol misuse or abuse
- stressful life events
- excessive worry or preoccupation with physical health symptoms
Anxiety may be common in seniors, but that doesn’t mean that seniors have to continue living with it. Anxiety is a condition that is easily treatable. Talk to your loved one’s physician if you see signs of anxiety.