Coping With Anxiety While Aging
Everyone feels anxious at some point in their lives. However, people aged 55 and older experience anxiety more than people in any other age range. Some reasons for this are that they take more medications, have more chronic ailments, and experience more loss of loved ones than younger adults.
Understanding anxiety and using several stress-reducing tips can help older adults cope with anxiety in a healthy way.
In the United States, anxiety disorders are more common among adults than other mental health issues. In fact, more than 40 million people are affected every year. Anxiety disorders can manifest in many ways, differing from person to person. In general, though, they make people worry more than they should about everyday things.
Some of the symptoms of anxiety include:
— Sleep difficulties
— Heart palpitations or chest pains
— Abdominal pain or lack of appetite
— Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
— Feelings of impending doom
— Sweating, shaking, or dizziness
Tips for Older Adults With Anxiety
Older adults who experience anxiety symptoms can do certain things to at least prevent the symptoms from escalating. For instance, deep breathing exercises can be very helpful at the first sign of anxiety, as can laughing or just smiling. However, there are ways for older adults to manage anxiety on a deeper level.
1. Eat Healthy and Exercise Regularly
Diet and exercise patterns can affect how severe anxiety symptoms get. What older adults eat has a significant impact on how their minds and bodies react to stress. For example, caffeine and sugar are stimulants that can irritate the nervous system, making them more likely to panic. Because of that, older adults should avoid foods and drinks that contain these stimulants.
However, what they eat is only half the equation. Regular exercise is crucial because it releases endorphins that make them feel better, brighter, and happier. This chemical change occurs during and directly after exercise, reducing anxiety and stress.
2. Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
As calming techniques, meditation and mindfulness relax the mind so that older adults can release stress. Meditation can take many forms, but it always involves clearing thoughts and controlling breathing. Mindfulness involves being aware of the current surroundings and living in the moment to slow racing thoughts.
Both of these are skills that older adults can practice and strengthen every day, not just when they have anxiety. Although the anxiety may not completely go away, it will lessen and give them a sense of calm and stability.
3. Get Enough Sleep
While anxiety can prevent or interrupt sleep, the body needs plenty of rest in order to function properly. By following a healthy diet and exercise routine and practicing meditation and mindfulness, better sleep patterns should come naturally. Also, it’s important to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day or as much as possible to maintain good sleep patterns.
4. Talk to a Therapist
When anxiety persists even after implementing the above tips, it’s time for older adults to talk with health professionals. While simply talking with someone can ease fears and provide support, therapists are trained and knowledgeable in the best ways to handle anxiety. They can help older adults develop strategies that work for them and improve their quality of life.
What to Do if You Care for a Loved One With Anxiety
Taking care of loved ones who experience anxiety isn’t always easy. Sometimes, they need more attention than you can provide. Other times, you need a break from balancing your home, work, and caregiving lives. Caring Home Care can provide assistance no matter your situation. The professional in-home caregivers offer personal care assistance, companion and respite care services, homemaker services, and live-in caregiver services.