How Do You Treat Severe Anxiety in The Elderly? 11 Proven Ways!

How Do You Treat Severe Anxiety in The Elderly? 11 Proven Ways!

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Anxiety in elderly is a very common mental health issue. Elderly anxiety symptoms include restlessness, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, fear, panic attacks, and sweating. Aging brings many challenges like loneliness, depression, medication, fear of falling, managing expenses, and being dependent on someone. All of these concerns lead to stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts. Symptoms of anxiety in the elderly can be treated by following a healthy lifestyle pattern and relaxation techniques.

11 Tips to Ease Anxiety in The Elderly

Following are some proven ways to reduce the elderly anxiety symptoms:

1.  Deep Breathing:

The physical symptoms of anxiety in the elderly can be managed effectively by engaging them in deep breathing. Deep breathing relaxes the parts of the brain that cause anxiety by increasing the supply of oxygen in the blood. In addition, deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which makes you feel calm and relaxed. Breathing exercises require practice. If you make them a habit, they will eventually become more effective. When you inhale your lungs expand and contract to supply oxygen to the blood and push out carbon dioxide. Common breathing methods include breathing in for four counts, holding for four counts, then exhaling for four counts. Breathing in for seven counts and out for eleven is another method.

2.  Meditation:

Meditation might seem a fancy thing but it can significantly reduce the stress and Anxiety in Elderly without taking much time. Meditation is a phenomenon of being present in the moment without stressing over the things that have happened in the past or anything that can happen in the future. During meditation, you should only focus on positive thoughts. Observe your feelings and emotions. If any anxious thought comes to your mind, try to accept it without judgment. Practice deep breathing techniques while meditating. It will help you feel better, relaxed, and positive.

3.  Engage in Physical Activities:

Physical movement is one of the best methods to promote mental health. Mobility issues are very common among seniors. Engaging them in physical activities might seem difficult but even a little bit of walk can help. Below are some physical activities that can ease symptoms of anxiety in the elderly:
  • Walking or Jogging
  • Seated Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Water Aerobics
  • Gardening
  • Canoeing
  • Bicycle Riding
  • Dancing
The Internet is full of exercise videos that are specifically designed for seniors. However, before beginning any new exercise routine, don’t forget to consult with your doctor.

4.  Balanced Healthy Diet:

A healthy and balanced diet greatly impacts your physical and mental health. Food acts as fuel to your body. You can have better control of your anxious thoughts if you consume a nutritious diet. A healthy diet includes the proper amounts of protein, fats, and carbs. Ensure to include multiple healthy foods at each meal. You can also have your favorite snacks but moderation is the key.

5.  Cultivate Social Interaction:

A lot of seniors feel lonely, especially if they are facing mobility issues. Loneliness gives room to negative thoughts and ultimately leads to anxiety. Social interaction is very important for all ages. Cultivating social interaction through communities can provide support to elderly people who feel socially isolated. Socialization can be a great strategy to reduce mental health issues and anxiety in elderly. Family is the first source of social support. Meeting your siblings, kids, grandkids, or other family members can lift your mood and compress your anxious thoughts. If you can’t see them in person, try video calling. Organizations like Considracare provide Live-in Caregivers that offer companionship and promote social interaction among seniors.

6.  Maintain A Routine:

Lack of discipline or routine can be a major source of anxiety in elderly. Seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia are likely to experience anxiety. Following a routine can significantly reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety in the elderly. You can experiment with weekly or daily schedules to see what suits you best. For instance, you can plan to go to a senior social event or you can choose a day for groceries every week. You can also maintain a daily routine like calling someone every evening, eating, walking, and exercising every day in the same pattern.

7.  Maintain A Sleep Cycle:

Maintaining a sleep cycle can be difficult for seniors. Irregular sleep patterns or lack of sleep can make you feel more anxious. Below are some strategies to reduce elderly anxiety at night by improving the sleep cycle:
  • Sleep and wake up at the same time every day
  • Use a white noise machine to remove distractions
  • Read some pages of a book
  • Listen to calming music
  • Avoid drinking tea or coffee in the evening
In case of emergency, a caregiver can provide support to manage elderly anxiety at night.

8.  Limit Caffeine:

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that might make you restless or anxious. To keep your mind and body calm, refrain from smoking and consuming significant amounts of coffee. Consider substituting it with herbal tea or lemon & ginger in water.

9.  Practice Relaxation Techniques:

You may unwind and avoid anxiety-inducing situations by engaging in calming hobbies. You might have to try different things to find what helps you relax. For some people, it’s gardening, for others it’s listening to music, painting, reading, drawing, etc. Such leisure activities greatly reduce elderly anxiety symptoms.

10.  Consult A Doctor:

Oftentimes, anxiety can be an indicator of a health issue. Certain drugs have been proven to cause anxiety in elderly. For instance, some different medical conditions, such as Lyme disease, nutritional deficiencies, and hyperthyroidism, are associated with anxiety. Your doctor can assist you in addressing any physical health issues that could be generating anxiety symptoms.

11.  Counseling:

Counselling has proven results in treating anxiety in the elderly. Many seniors find it simpler and more helpful to discuss their mental health difficulties with a neutral counselor than with relatives or family members. Talking to a therapist helps you navigate the root causes of anxiety. Afterward, you may collaborate to develop a strategy for dealing with your anxiety.

3-3-3 Rule to Reduce Anxiety in Elderly

The 3-3-3 rule is a famous technique to manage anxiety. In this technique, you name 3 sounds you hear, move 3 parts of your body (fingers, shoulder, feet), and then point out 3 things you see. This is an excellent way to instantly calm your anxious thoughts and bring you back to the present moment.

Bottom Line:

Anxiety in elderly is a serious concern. It can harm both physical and mental health. It requires effort and practice to dismiss and control negative thoughts. If your loved one is struggling with anxiety, lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, engaging in hobbies, and expert assistance are some ways to manage the symptoms of anxiety in the elderly and to live a stress-free life.

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