Anxiety/Stress and the Elderly

Anxiety and stress are common among older people, but are very treatable if diagnosed and treated properly.  Today, it seems more and more often people feel anxiety and stress as they begin to reach older age.  Some of the primary causes are related to having to make life’s adjustments such as:

  • Having to deal with retirement
  • Being alone
  • A change in medications
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Possibly moving in with children or to a new home
  • The possible aches and pains that come with arthritis
  • Our bodies becoming frail
  • Children growing up and moving away

So what do anxiety and stress look like?

  • An inability to let your worries go and unable to concentrate on any one thing
  • You are worried, anxious, or nervous more often than not
  • You are worried or anxious about everything and not just one thing
  • You are fretting over a number of things and not able to calm your mind down and sleep
  • You have lost your appetite

Note: These are also symptoms for other mental health concerns?

How are anxiety and stress diagnosed and treated?

It is often easier for a person to open up and share feelings of being anxious or stressed with a Primary Care Doctor or Therapist.  Therefore it is easiest for them to make an accurate diagnosis.

Primary Care Doctors and Therapists are also the ones to help determine which treatment approach is best.  In a majority of people Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), also known as talk therapy and relaxation therapies, such as Meditation and Mindfulness have been effective in the treatment of anxiety and stress  In some cases medication has also been an effective treatments.

Questions for the family

Are you worried about an aging parent and their anxiety and stress levels?

It is important to talk with your aging parent or loved one about any changes they are contemplating or may have made recently which could be causing stress and anxiety, for example if they have moved out of their home and into a retirement community, if there have been any change in medications, or how they are coping with recently being widowed?

The conversation about anxiety and stress can be difficult, but you can begin by showing love and concern and asking questions.

  • Just let your parent know you care and that you are concerned
  • Ask if they have any concerns of their own
  • Be prepared to openly listen and not judge
  • Openly share your concerns with them
  • Talk about possible solutions
  • Possibly suggest seeking professional help