Much of our population is affected by anxiety. Whether it appears in a healthy amount of nervousness at a presentation for a new job, or a crippling feeling for no apparent reason, many people can empathize with feelings of anxiousness.

“As many as one quarter of all people experience anxiety to an unhealthy extent, and older people can be at particular risk.”

If anxiety begins to manifest as something debilitating to your everyday life, it can be deemed an “unhealthy psychiatric disorder.”

By the time you begin to age and grow older, you have experienced more and more loss, pain, and illness than younger people. This can sometimes be the cause of increased anxiety.

“A large study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (1998, A. Beekman) found that 10 percent of adults 55 to 85 years of age had elderly anxiety disorders-the same prevalence as for other age groups.”

Usually, if someone is anxious, they have reason to be. Be careful not to pass by your loved one’s fears as “all in their head.”

Some Common Anxiety Disorders afflicting the Elderly:

  • Acute Stress Disorder: Common after traumatic events.
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Acute Stress Disorder that continues for more than one month.
  • Panic Attacks: “A sudden, unpredictable, intense, illogical fear and dread.”
  • Social Anxiety: A preoccupation with how a person is viewed by others.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): A pattern of excessive worrying over simple, everyday occurrences and events.
  • Phobias: Irrational fear of certain situations.
  • Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD): “A pattern of intrusive thoughts that assault the mind and produce extreme anxiety that can only be mitigated by a specific action.” (such as fixing crooked pictures on the wall).

Whether or not a person ends up the symptoms of these disorders depends upon their genetics, biological qualities, as well as the events in their life that might have caused these reasons to stress.

What can be done?

Medication as well as a calm response and careful listening from a Caregiver or family member can help ease the symptoms of these disorders as they progress. Counseling or therapy sessions can also be helpful when an elderly client needs to talk through events or anxieties in their life with a professional.


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