Anxiety and Depression in Older Adults

Anxiety and Depression in Older Adults

In this day in age, anxiety and depression are spoken about openly, and are (usually) met with understanding and open-mindedness. In the past, though, even as recently as just a few years ago, anxiety and depression were seen as supposedly “shameful” or “all in one’s head,” or just not spoken about, at best.

This is one of the reasons why, up until very recently, anxiety was thought to decline as one got older. According to research, fewer seniors had anxiety than teenagers or adults up to middle age, so some people just stopped worrying about this. They didn’t see it as a possible problem, because why worry about something that supposedly rarely occurs in seniors?

Unfortunately, though, this attitude was based on flawed information. Many seniors just never reported any feelings of anxiety or depression, because they didn’t feel that it was something that should be spoken about out loud, even just inside the family. These seniors were also more focused on their physical pain than their mental anguish or discomfort, so they tended to report just the things that ailed their bodies, not their minds and emotions.

Now that scientists know the flaw in their research, they know that anxiety is just as common in senior citizens as it is in people of other age groups. This is vital information, because this knowledge can not only be used to help seniors feel better, but it can also make speaking about their anxious or depressed feelings feel less taboo.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The most common type of anxiety in the elderly is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This is usually anxiety that appears without one single set reason, or as a result of a build-up of tension. The senior is often frequently anxious, fearful, and stressed without really knowing why.

Other anxiety disorders that are common in seniors are more similar to post traumatic stress disorder. This can be caused by the loss of a loved one, a serious illness, or even lingering anxiety from a bad fall.

Symptoms of Anxiety in Older Adults

Symptoms of anxiety can include:
– Racing heartbeat
– Breathlessness
– Chest tightening
– Fatigue
– and just generally feeling fearful

If you or your senior care aide have noticed these symptoms in your aging loved one, first check with a doctor to see if they are being caused by a different medical condition. Then, try talking to your loved one to try to find out what is causing the anxiety. Ask them if there are certain things that seem to trigger the anxiety, or if there is anything in their life at the moment that is worrying them or giving them stress.

You should also ask them when they first started to notice the anxiety, and if they have trouble calming their racing mind. Ask them if they often get a thought stuck in their head that just keeps going around and around, as much as they would like to stop dwelling on it. This is one of the trademarks of anxiety, and can be one of the most bothersome symptoms.

Luckily, more research is being done on anxiety in seniors every day, but the important thing to note for now is that your loved one should not feel alone if they are having these feelings.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring senior care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Sonas Home Health Care today. (888) 592-5855