As we age, numerous changes occur, often leading to increased anxiety among older adults. This anxiety can negatively impact a person’s quality of life and overall health. At Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast, our Aged Care Professionals are trained to recognise signs of anxiety and support those they care for who experience anxiety. Here are some tips on identifying anxiety, understanding its causes, and ways to help manage it.

Recognising Signs of Anxiety

Anxiety can manifest differently in each person. It’s important to recognise that symptoms might not always appear as expected:

  • Persistent worry or excessive concern about daily activities
  • Trouble sleeping or staying asleep
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, or stomach issues without a medical cause
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Avoidance of social activities or withdrawal from previously enjoyed hobbies
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Increased heart rate or breathing, even without physical exertion
  • Experiencing panic attacks, including sudden intense fear or a sense of impending doom
  • Changes in appetite, either eating more or less than usual
  • Constantly feeling on edge or tense
  • Increased use of alcohol or other substances to cope with anxiety

Understanding the Causes of Anxiety

The later stages of life can bring significant changes and challenges, which may cause anxiety. Possible causes include:

  • Health Concerns: Aging often brings various health issues, chronic pain, or concerns about mortality.
  • Life Transitions: Retirement, loss of loved ones, or becoming empty nesters can trigger anxiety about the future.
  • Financial Worries: Managing finances on a fixed income or healthcare costs can lead to anxiety.
  • Social Isolation: Reduced social interactions due to retirement, mobility issues, or the loss of friends and family can increase loneliness and anxiety.
  • Cognitive Changes: Fear of cognitive decline or memory loss can cause anxiety.
  • Caregiver Stress: Caring for a spouse or family member may lead to anxiety due to the responsibilities involved.
  • Trauma or Past Experiences: Previous traumatic events or experiences may resurface and contribute to anxiety.
  • Medication Side Effects: Some medications prescribed to older adults may cause anxiety.
  • Changes in Independence: Loss of independence due to physical limitations can be distressing and lead to anxiety.

How to Help

Fortunately, there are several ways to support your loved one:

  • Encourage avoiding stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol that can increase anxiety.
  • Suggest visiting a doctor if you believe their anxiety is caused by medication or a medical condition. The doctor can also provide resources if further support is needed.
  • Promote good sleep and exercise habits. If they haven’t been active, consult their doctor for suitable exercise recommendations.
  • Talk to your loved one. Provide a space for them to discuss their feelings and anxieties without judgment.
  • Consider home care. If daily tasks or being alone contribute to their anxiety, a Care Professional might help.

Support from a home care agency like Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast can bring significant benefits and comfort, enhancing your quality of life while living independently at home. For more information, contact us today.