By 2060, nearly one-quarter of the population in the United States will be comprised of adults ages 65 and older.
While the aging process is nothing new, of course, the large numbers of adults moving into their golden years is shedding new light on senior anxiety disorders and common symptoms of anxiety in the elderly.
This article takes a closer look at anxiety in elders and symptoms to watch for.
Statistics tell us that anxiety is actually quite common for adults of all ages today. As many as one-quarter of adults report feeling anxiety to some degree at some time in life.
While the general feelings and symptoms of anxiety can look quite similar regardless of age, the reasons (triggers) for anxiety are often different for elders.
Seniors often have the additional emotional burden to bear of increasing losses in their family and community. Sadness piled upon sadness can give way to anxiety and fear for their own future.
Also, seniors experiencing life inside an aging body can suffer from a myriad of small or more major aches and pains, logging more hours at the doctor's office and more worry and anxiety about what might be happening to them.
Another less recognized factor that may contribute to anxiety for seniors is medication side effects. Some medications, whether on their own or due to interactions with other medications, may trigger feelings of anxiousness, worry or panic.
There is no doubt elder adults can struggle with a variety of issues that, over time, can become life-limiting. From chronic physical issues with pain or mobility to mental concerns such as dementia or Alzheimer's, the aging process can bring big unwanted changes to daily life.
But there can come a point when anxiety itself, whether for these or other reasons, becomes life-limiting.
For some seniors, anxiety may interfere with driving, sleeping or carrying out routine activities such as visiting friends, volunteering or grocery shopping. For other seniors, anxiety can manifest as a symptom of a broader health issue such as post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In some cases, these issues may have genetic roots, and talking with family members can help shed light on underlying triggers or issues. In other cases, the onset of cognitive decline can trigger panic or severe anxiety where none existed previously.
As people live longer and longer, there is more need for assisted living resources and facilities. While many elder adults need these services, they don't always want to make that transition from independent living.
For many, this late-in-life move can provoke increasing isolation, social anxiety and withdrawal. Complicating health issues, such as incontinence, hearing or vision problems or mobility concerns can cause great anxiety about being with other people who might not understand or be able to make accommodations for their needs.
Senior anxiety disorders are very real and deserve respect, attention and prompt treatment.
Maybe your parent or elderly loved one is having a hard time tranistioning into assisted living life. We share helpful tips here.