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Caring for Seniors with General Anxiety Disorders

General anxiety disorders in seniors are often misdiagnosed because the symptoms can mimic so many other causes, such as side effects from medications. It’s estimated that 90% of people with general anxiety disorders also have symptoms of another mental health problem. Seniors may also feel vulnerable sharing that they have anxiety or have difficulty communicating their feelings. This makes it difficult to determine the root cause of symptoms. Caregivers and family members who are caring for seniors with anxiety disorders will benefit by remaining aware of these factors.

The Signs and Symptoms of General Anxiety Disorders

While depression and anxiety overlap, these are two distinct disorders. General anxiety disorder is the presence of chronic excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics and activities. Symptoms include:

  • Edginess or restlessness.

  • Tiring easily; chronic fatigue

  • Impaired concentration

  • Irritability (which may or may not be observable to others)

  • Increased muscle aches

  • Difficulty sleeping

A person who has a general anxiety disorder will have at least three of these symptoms. The symptoms may fluctuate in intensity over time.

Caregiving Tips for Seniors Who Have General Anxiety Disorders

If you’re a caregiver working with anxious clients, self-awareness about your own anxiety level is key. When we do not maintain self-awareness, we risk escalating the situation instead of helping to resolve it. For example, caregivers need to stay grounded in order to use short, calm, simple, and easy to understand sentences. If a caregiver is anxious, it will make it difficult to do caregiving tasks. For these reasons and more, caregivers are encouraged to practice self-care and relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.

To help seniors who have anxiety disorders, caregivers can:

  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms.

  • Look for triggers that may need to be reported to a case manager.

  • Make sure to not minimize feelings.

  • Provide reassurance.

  • Create safe spaces in order to help prevent triggers.

  • Follow schedules and care plans.

  • Practice relaxation and anti-anxiety techniques.

  • Observe and document on a regular basis.

By being observant and maintaining awareness, caregivers can learn what triggers are particular to each person in their care. Caregivers can then work to minimize these triggers and can continuously refine care plans to the needs of each client.

The Benefits of In-Home Care

Remaining within an environment that is familiar is one way to reduce the symptoms of general anxiety disorders. Since in-home care allows people to age and recover within the comfort of their own home, clients are less likely to encounter unfamiliar situations. The stability of a long-term, in-home caregiver also helps reduce anxiety and allows people to build a therapeutic relationship.

Do you or a loved one need home care assistance in Stockton or a nearby community? The caregivers at Alegre Home Care are compassionate, highly trained, and skilled at providing caregiving services. Please reach out to an Alegre Home Care location with any questions.

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