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How Older Adults Can Manage Anxiety
Thursday, August 6, 2020

Managing Anxiety in Older Adults

Recommended Ways to Cope With General Anxiety

During challenging times—and certainly during a pandemic—it is natural to feel anxious. However, nursing care patients and older adults may be particularly prone to anxiety right now. Between the uncertainty and fear around the spread of COVID-19 and the sadness of not regularly seeing loved ones, anxiety may become more prevalent to the point that it begins to interfere with everyday life. 

Medical Health America cited a study from the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry which found that “more than 27% of older adults under the care of an aging service provider have symptoms of anxiety that may not amount to diagnosis of [an anxiety] disorder, but significantly impact their functioning.”

It is important to note that there is a difference between feeling anxious and suffering from an anxiety disorder. This article from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America may be a good resource. Of course, if you feel that an aging parent or loved one may be experiencing severe anxiety or potentially suffering from an anxiety disorder, we encourage you to share your concerns with a primary care physician for a professional diagnosis. 

There are actions that all older adults can take to help manage and reduce general anxiety. The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation compiled some general recommendations, which we have summarized and highlighted here:

Talk to someone.

In many cases, we feel much better when we share our worries and concerns, rather than keep them bottled inside. This is where a concerned loved one can play a major role. If an aging parent is expressing their worries, acknowledge them, be as calm and reassuring as possible, and offer assistance in connecting them with a medical professional or another individual who can provide support.

Acknowledge your worries.

Is there a worry that could be addressed by taking action? For example, if you have a lingering medical concern, schedule a meeting with your doctor. If you are worried about expenses, make an appointment with a financial planner. Whenever possible, identify actions that you can take to help relieve worries.

Discover your preferred stress management technique.

Whether it is daily meditation, prayer, going for a nature walk, or simply practicing deep breathing, find a coping mechanism that can help you relax and clear your mind.

Limit exposure to negative news.

While it is important to stay informed, constantly refreshing the news app on our phones or keeping the TV on for hours will likely only perpetuate feelings of anxiety and fear, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As much as possible, try to limit your daily news intake.

At McGregor, we are committed to providing a caring, compassionate environment for you or your loved one. This includes providing services and activities that can help ease anxiety and worry and make them feel safe. If you would like to learn more about our living options and our services, feel free to contact our team at any time.