Anxiety in Senior Citizens: Practical Guidelines for Family Support

Anxiety doesn’t have an age limit. In fact, anxiety in senior citizens isn’t uncommon, with anywhere from 3-14% of the elderly being affected. 

Some seniors may have struggled with anxiety their entire lives. Others may have developed it in their later years for a variety of reasons. 

Whatever the case, just because an older family member is struggling with anxiety now doesn’t mean they can’t get help. As their family, you can support them and encourage them to get the treatment they need. 

So, what can you actually do to help your loved one? What are some suggestions to follow for senior citizens with anxiety?

Talk to Your Loved One

Family support is incredibly important for anyone who suffers from anxiety. But it can be even more crucial for seniors. Many elderly individuals struggle with loneliness or not having someone to talk to. They also may not want to “burden” their family with their worries or fears. 

Moreover, many older people may want to guard their pride. Anxiety has been seen as a sign of “weakness” in past generations, even though that clearly isn’t the case. 

But, if you notice any signs of anxiety in your older loved one, it’s okay for you to approach them to talk about it. Let them know they can tell you how they feel and if they’re struggling. Sometimes, just opening that door and getting them to talk can be the first step toward treating the disorder. 

Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle

Did you know that your brain and your stomach have a connection? The old saying “you are what you eat” is actually truer than most people realize. 

Unfortunately, as people get older, they may not put as much care into their diet. Maybe they’re limited in mobility and can’t always cook healthy meals. Or maybe they’ve always eaten processed, unhealthy foods and don’t want to make a change. 

Diet and exercise are incredibly important for people who deal with anxiety. The things people eat can impact their emotions. Plus, rapid changes in blood sugar levels can make anxiety even worse. Thus, it’s important for anyone with anxiety to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains while limiting processed foods. 

Staying active can also help seniors reduce their levels of anxiety. But they may not have the motivation to get moving on their own.

If you can walk with your loved one for even just 10 minutes a day, it can greatly improve their mood and relieve tension. Studies have shown that regular exercise can help to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression. You can be the motivation your family member needs to be more active. 

Find Professional Support

Anxiety in senior citizens isn’t something to take lightly, but it can also be managed with help. If you’re truly worried about your older family member, one of the best things you can do aside from daily support is to encourage them to talk to a psychologist. 

Again, due to the stigma therapy has had in generations past, it might take some convincing to get your loved one to talk to a mental health professional. But suggesting that it can help them to manage their symptoms could be all they need to give it a try.

Therapy can often help those dealing with anxiety—including senior citizens—to get to the root of the issue(s). Once that’s discovered, a psychologistt can recommend a course of treatment. They will also be able to teach your loved one different skills and management techniques that they can implement daily to manage their symptoms.

Just as anxiety can happen at any age, it’s also treatable at any age. If a senior citizen in your family is struggling with anxiety, senior therapy can help.

Please, feel free to contact us if you’re worried about your loved one. Or encourage them to call themselves as soon as possible, reminding them that no one has to live with anxiety forever. 

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