When addressing the issue of anxiety in older adults, it is important to consider proper nutrition, hydration, and regular activity as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Minor adjustments with small, measurable goals can make a large impact on the quality of life. It is time to consider medication when anxiety interferes with activities of daily living and general well-being despite lifestyle improvements. Consulting a loved one’s primary care physician is an effective first step. During the consultation, medication interactions could be evaluated. Common prescriptions for late-age anxiety or depression may include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or beta-blockers.
It is important to monitor when the medication begins to work and its side effects. When discussing medication with a loved one’s doctor, it is important to note any herbal supplements that are also being taken in conjunction with the prescription medication. If a side effect appears to cause harm, notify the physician immediately. Some medications can not be abruptly stopped and may require a physician’s supervision to safely adjust to tolerable levels or slowly tapered down. Additionally, a doctor may refer her patient to a therapist while taking medication.
Many forms of therapy target different physical, mental, and emotional challenges facing older adults. Therapy or psychotherapy involves talking with a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor, to discover what caused the anxiety disorder and how to deal with its symptoms.
Family members are the frontlines of care and advocacy for older adults. When a loved one is making a transition from independent living to assisted living, regular visits from family members can offer a sense of continuity and security for their loved ones. Additionally, family members who keep regular visits can work alongside assisted living care professionals so that care plans can be customized and consistently enforced. Consistency in caretaking is an essential part of a successful transition in receiving a little extra help with daily activities. During visitation periods, family members can ensure the care of their loved ones by asking questions, actively listening, and monitoring any physical, emotional, or personality changes.
Intergenerational activity helps an elderly loved one play an active role in the lives of grand and great-grandchildren. Being able to interact with younger generations assists older adults in rediscovering a sense of purpose and motivation while warding off feelings of hopelessness, fear, and uncertainty.
Taking the time to celebrate even the smallest victories in the life of a loved one emphasizes a positive and supportive environment. Offering gratitude, kudos, and other forms of positive reinforcement can help change, affect and enhance motivation. Celebrating each day of a family member’s life as if it is his last can create new traditions of peace, laughter, and joy lasting for generations.