How To Manage Anxiety in Older Adults


What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a mental challenge that is associated with feelings of worries, it can also be associated with fear that tends to affect daily activities or functions.


  • According to the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, anxiety disorders or nervousness issues in older adults are genuinely normal, influencing 10% to 20% of individuals. In any case, anxiety problems are regularly undiscovered. Anxiety is found more regularly than sorrow and intellectual issues in more established older adults.
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) provides a criteria for the review of anxiety disorders in older adults. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed. American Psychiatric Association; Washington DC
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most widely recognized kind of anxiety problem analysed in older adults. This is trailed by fears, alarm issue, and obsessive-compulsive disorder  (OCD). Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are the most widely recognized sorts of anxiety and uneasiness problems analysed.

Types of anxiety disorders and treatments

Having more nervousness and anxiety as you age is a typical issue in older adults. The most widely recognized sorts of anxiety issues in older adults are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This kind of nervousness causes contemplations, stressing, and a sensation of sadness. Older adults with GAD can’t rest or think calmly. They additionally feel drained, bad tempered, and sick. They may need to go to the restroom regularly. Hot glimmers and feeling exhaustion are extra indications of GAD.


Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most common ways of treating anxiety in older adults. This is done by a cognitive behavioural therapist. This therapy involves talking techniques that can help elevate worries and change the way the anxious individual thinks about a specific issue.

  • ‌Phobias. This sort of uneasiness fills individuals with extraordinary dread of a spot, thing, or occasion. Frequently, these feelings of dread may be about things that don’t represent a genuine danger. Older adults may experience fears (phobias) or a dread of death, calamity, and risk to the family.

A dread of dental procedures is additionally normal. When confronted with the triggers for an individual’s phobia, the individual may feel dazed, have chest torment, heart palpitations or windedness.


Exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy are the two common ways to treat anxiety in older adults.

In exposure, the patients are gradually exposed to pictures or object that causes fear to the patient. Please do not attempt to cure an older adult of his fears or phobia if you have no training or experience to try out such intervention.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): obsessive-compulsive disorder is constant consideration that leads to repetitive action. Older adults having this condition will feel like they can just gain influence by doing rehashed activities.


Since Obsessive-compulsive disorder shares some similarities with generalised cognitive disorder, the best treatment is the talk therapy known as the cognitive behavioural therapy. Other treatments such as the exposure therapy, imaginal therapy and habit reversal training can follow suit.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): This kind of uneasiness or anxiety is brought about by an unpleasant occurrence. At times, manifestations of the injury may not arise until a time much later after the incident. Older adults might be set off by a past horrendous accident after feeling vulnerable in view of another inability.


Like other types of anxiety disorders, cognitive behavioural therapy and exposure therapy is also used in this case. Cognitive behavioural therapy helps the individual to face events that were threatening prior while exposure therapy helps the patient to face events such as nightmares.

Symptoms of anxiety in older adults

  • Panic.
  • Trouble breathing, perspiring, and queasiness.
  • Dazedness or feeling unsteady.
  • Assimilation issues and chest torment.
  • Cerebral pains and disarray.
  • Eye and vision issues.
  • Muscle strain, irritation, and weakness.
  • Irrational thinking and deductions.
  • Absent mindedness.
  • Crabbiness.
  • Evasion of exercises, places, individuals, and even considerations that trigger tension.
  • Changes in weight, craving, or dietary patterns.
  • Restlessness.
  • Not having any desire to venture out from home, withdrawal, and confining themselves
  • Fanatical contemplations and urgent conduct.
How To Manage Anxiety in Older Adults

(Photo credit: U. Michigan)

Risk factors associated with anxiety in older adults

  • Gender: According to Gomaa, M. A. M., et al. (2014). Women tend to suffer more from anxiety more than men.
  • Genetics: If an individual have a family history of those that have suffered from anxiety, there is a very high tendency for that individual to suffer from anxiety.
  • Trauma: someone that have suffered from trauma such as rape, the trauma of such an event may come back as post-traumatic stress disorder later in life of that individual.
  • Depression: someone suffering from depression has a 50:50 possibility chance to suffer from any form of anxiety.

How to manage anxiety in older adults

  • Find out what triggers the uneasiness: Getting what triggers sensations of tension and how to adapt help with managing anxiety. Treatment can assist you with learning ways of adapting to your nervousness. You will learn relaxation techniques and how to deal with different stressors.
  • Find a social support group: Family, companions, and individuals that you trust can be a useful asset for you. In addition to assisting with providing companionship, they may also assist you with distinguishing distressing circumstances and realize when to get you out of them. ‌
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Getting sufficient rest, eating great, making social connections, leisure activities and remaining active assist with improving mental wellbeing may assist lessen pressure and nervousness.

Frequently asked questions (FAQS) on anxiety in older-adults

  • What is anxiety?

Nervousness is a characteristic reaction to a distressing or risky circumstance. The body responds to a circumstance with a dashing heart, sweat-soaked palms, and windedness.

  • How common are anxiety or uneasiness problems?

Nervousness issues influence 12% of the populace, making it the most widely recognized psychological instability in the world. For an assortment of reasons, a few people may not look for treatment for their uneasiness, even though it tends to be adequately treated through various choices.

  • Is anxiety hereditary?

If you have a relative with a nervousness problem, you have a higher shot at having one.

  • Can my anxiety be cured?

There is no straight answer to this. In some instances, where the triggers are identified and dealt with; it may seem like anxiety has been cured. However, anxiety can be managed.

  • Will I need drugs to treat anxiety?

Not all cases of anxiety are treated with drugs. Anxiety may be treated with therapy.

Author’s note:

I remember when I used to have frequent panic attacks. Being upset was the trigger. A debilitating panic attack that left me almost breathless, having heart palpitations as if I was going to have a heart attack whenever I had a feeling that things had spun out of my control or did not go according to how I thought it was supposed to.

Identifying my trigger was instrumental to overcoming it. Before I got into a panic attack. I began to talk myself to stand down. I told myself everything was okay multiple times and practised breathing exercises until the moment passed.

Read Also: How to Detect Prostate Cancer In Older Adults

Final thoughts

Older adults may have anxiety and its various manifestations. While there exists a plethora of suggestions for managing anxiety, please do not attempt to cure an older adult of his fears or phobia if you have no training or experience to try out such intervention. Take the older adult to see a specialist.

Featured image by Business photo created by creativeart –

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *