Anxiety Disorder In Older Adults

Recognizing AD In Older Adults

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Anxiety Disorder in the elderly is complex to understand. Older people have a different set of fears to deal with compared with children, teens and adults. Significant changes such as a deteriorating body, retirement and loss of regular income, dependency on others over basic needs of shelter, clothing and food, death of significant other after spending a lifetime together can be miserable for older adults. Dealing with situations such as these late in life can lead to anxiety disorder.

The aging process makes anxiety disorder in older adults harder to diagnosis. It is especially challenging when later in life the older adults have other accompanying or existing conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. Both the condition poses challenges as loss in memory can trigger off a different thread of disorders.

Older adults with declining memory and limited physical ability usually have problems conveying his or her thoughts verbally. Taking notice of what they do (acting out, sign language, hand signals, eye signals) should be primary concern when diagnosis of anxiety disorder is needed. In exceptional cases, rely on what can be seen and not so much heard. Differentiating the symptoms is therefore the first step in determining whether the older adult is indeed facing anxiety disorder or merely having a relapse in their existing condition.

Fear is still a huge component that contributes to anxiety disorder – at any age. In older adults, it is the feeling of dread over embarrassing conditions such as incontinence and heart disease. It materializes in forms of aches and pains, agitation and other physical and emotional symptoms. This fear is so strong that it is able to take over the mind of older adults to act irrationally. When an older person is afraid of something, the fear they face is real and not made up. If they claim there is something or someone coming to take them away and that they are afraid, chances are, their fear of dying is so great that they believe it is near when in actual fact, it may be years away.