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Advice for Seniors suffering from Anxiety…and their Children too!

As people begin to age, it is natural that they encounter mild feelings of anxiety.  Anxious feelings can stem from various origins, some predictable and common among seniors as a general population, while others more unexpected and unforeseen.  Even changes in daily routine, such as the transition from a career into retirement or becoming “empty nesters”, can trigger anxiety.  Furthermore, the behavior of the adult senior suffering from anxiety can also create stressful and overwhelming feelings for their children, especially if they act as a caregiver for their parent.  

“If you or an elderly parent is suffering from anxiety, then I would recommend talking to a doctor or going online for information,” says Pam Goodfriend, a Psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado, who specializes in working with seniors. “There is a lot of information online that can give you a preliminary insight into the problems stemming from anxiety. It’s very important to just go in and see if you do have a problem with anxiety and how somebody who specializes in this area can help you… and your insurance normally pays for it.” Websites that might be useful are psychologytoday.com and goodtherapy.org.

Anxiety can rear its ugly head in many different shapes and forms.  Social anxiety, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress are several common manifestations of the disorder.  Hording is even thought to be a byproduct of anxiety, according to many mental health professionals.   If you or a loved one is suffering from mild forms of anxiety it is important that you immediately educated yourself on the subject as best as possible, as well as talk to a mental health professional.  By treating anxiety in its earliest stages you decrease the risk of facing a bigger problem down the road.

Anxiety not only affects the senior adult suffering from the disorder, but it can also become stressful and taxing on their children as well.  “If you find that you are the adult child of a senior that is starting to have health issues that stem from anxious feelings then learning as much as you can is very important,” Pam explains.  “Learning about anxiety helps you have more empathy for your parent, it helps you understand that reacting to them accomplishes virtually nothing, and that your patience is required.  By getting your aging parent outside help and into therapy you will avoid burning out and become impaired by their anxious and angry outbursts that are so unexpected and unwarranted.”

Anxiety is designed by nature to signal when we are in danger; therefore the proper application of anxious feelings can literally save your life when faced with harmful situations.  On the other hand, when an inherent fear has grown irrationally over time, situations that are not dangerous at all now cause anxious feelings, which can be debilitating.  We all have irrational anxious feelings! Educating oneself and seeking outside help provides tools to better manage and treat those feelings.

Article written by Alex Milzer with Senior Directory.  Special thanks to Pam Goodfriend – Psychotherapist. 

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