Every person deals with anxiety. In moderation and at the appropriate times, feelings of anxiety are both a normal and healthy part of the human experience. However, a significant number of people suffer from anxiety disorders. As explained by the Mayo Clinic, an anxiety disorder is defined as chronic feelings of worry and anxiety that are strong enough and persistent enough to have an adverse impact on a person’s day-to-day life.
Anxiety in the elderly is a serious problem in the United States. Not only is it one of the most common mental health conditions, but people suffering from anxiety disorders face real stigma — they often struggle to be taken seriously and to get proper medical treatment. There are options available. For qualified applicants, EEOICPA and RECA benefits may provide free home health care services for anxiety disorders.
Anxiety in Older Adults: What We Know
Anxiety is a serious issue for senior citizens in the United States. Sadly, many older adults are living with anxiety levels that are neither healthy, nor normal. According to data from the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation (GMHF), anxiety disorders, as a mental health condition, impact somewhere between ten percent and twenty percent of seniors in the United States. Perhaps even more alarming, a significant percentage of the seniors who are living with chronic anxiety issues are not receiving adequate mental health services. Many are not getting any mental health treatment at all.
Anxiety is Not a Normal Part of the Aging Process
For senior citizens who are dealing with anxiety disorders, there are some major hurdles to getting treatment. One of the biggest problems it that far too many people believe that developing anxiety is simply a normal part of the aging process — they think “being anxious is simply what older people are like.” This is completely false. Anxiety disorders are not normal.
Chronic and persistent anxiety in older adults should always be evaluated by an experienced medical professional. By itself, anxiety is a mental health disorder that deserves treatment and attention. Medication or other health care options may be available to help a patient live with the condition. Beyond that, anxiety may actually be a sign of an additional, undiagnosed physical health problem. Finally, anxiety can also be a sign that a senior is not in the right environment for their needs — they may not be getting the social experience that they need to live a happy, healthy life.
Treatment Options for Seniors With Anxiety
For older adults deal with anxiety disorders, there are many different treatment options available. That being said, these options cannot be effectively utilized unless the patient is properly evaluated and diagnosed by an experienced medical health professional. In some cases, the prescription of anti-anxiety medication is a reasonable and advisable treatment plan.
In other cases, changes to a senior’s environment and lifestyle, including facilitating a better diet, getting more exercise, and helping them live a more social life will make a dramatic difference. Similar to other mental health issues, anxiety in seniors should always be addressed on a case-by-case basis.