Everyone feels anxious occasionally. It’s the body and mind’s natural response to an environment or situation that seems unfamiliar or threatening. But when that anxiety seems to take over all of your parent’s thoughts and begins to affect how she interacts with the world around her or stops her from enjoying things she used to enjoy, it could be that she has an anxiety disorder. Homecare providers can help her with this circumstance.
Anxiety is fairly common among older adults, affecting 10-20 percent of their demographic. For many older adults it goes untreated because they either don’t share their feelings of anxiousness with others or they’ve lived with it for so long, they’ve learned to think that it’s normal to be consistently anxious.
If you feel like anxiety is overwhelming your parent and causing her to miss out on some of the better things in life, there are steps you can take to gently help her manage her anxiety until she is ready to get professionally diagnosed and treated.
Listen and Acknowledge
When your parent shares with you that she’s feeling anxious about something, listen without judgment and interruption. Many times we want to jump in right away and offer advice, but your parent may just need to share her concerns. Don’t shame her for feeling the way she’s feeling, even if you understand or think that her concerns are overblown or unrealistic.
Ask What Will Help
Your parent may know exactly what she needs. She may want someone to accompany her to a location that causes her anxiety (such as the doctor or a store). If you cannot attend with her, investigate hiring a home health care provider to accompany her or transport her.
Offer Suggestions Like Homecare Assistance
If your parent doesn’t want to visit a professional, offer up some suggestions to help her manage her anxiety at home. Your parent might be open to having a homecare provider visit her home and help her with relaxation exercises or even massage. Sometimes even just having someone else at home with her can help her feel less nervous.
Teach Her Meditation
Learning how to breath through an anxiety attack or strong anxious feelings can help your parent feel more in control when she’s anxious. Deep breathing from the lower abdomen combined with counting or focusing on pleasant images has been shown to reduce anxiety in many people. You can watch some YouTube videos with your parent to get the basics on this holistic treatment of anxiety.
Make Some Diet Adjustments
Some foods can cause extra anxiety. Caffeine in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate can aggravate anxious feelings. Alcohol is another element of your parent’s diet to review. While oftentimes alcohol is used to relax, it can interfere with sleep and increase overall feelings of anxiousness.
Invite Your Parent to Exercise
Getting out and moving is a great way to reduce symptoms of anxiety. A walk every morning may help your parent cope throughout the day. It can also help get her away from screen time (TV, computer or phone), all of which can often increase anxiety.
If you find your parent still struggles with anxiousness even after implementing some of these self-care practices, continue to encourage her to see a professional to see if therapy or medication can help.