Anxiety can Result in a Senior Citizen overusing Healthcare

As people age they tend to worry more about their health.  This is a natural feeling! However people who are more prone to anxious feelings are more likely to perseverate, which means they get so anxious they want to go to the doctor for every “little thing”.  Even though those little things might be indicative of a more serious condition, an anxious person can’t discern between what is a “real fire alarm” and just the smell of smoke burning, so to speak. A good example is when anxiety causes a senior to panic to the point they confuse a mere instance of heartburn from what is true and dangerous chest pain. Consequently, seniors tend to not be preventive in their health but rather turn it over to their doctor or the emergency room.

It’s important that seniors who suffer from anxiety develop skills to better understand and cope with their anxious feelings.  If not, they are at risk of overusing medical services, which can become strenuous not only on their own health, but also for their caregivers, doctors and loved ones.  

Anxiety can Negatively Affect Daily Tasks among Senior Citizens

Let’s say, for instance, that a senior citizen is getting to the age that their adult child is helping them manage their checkbook.  This can be very anxiety causing for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that is represents a loss of independence.  Even for most people this would cause anxious feelings, but especially for a person with a pattern of anxiety. 

The second reason is that the inability to manage their checkbook signifies a lack of perfection, ultimately causing feelings of anxiety and then projected on their child anytime an error is made.  It’s not that they want to blame their child if they fail to enter a number in the check register, or to whom check was written, or for what purpose, but it’s rather the representation of not being perfect. This is because anxious people unwittingly tend to set the bar really high around perfectionism, which is very difficult not only for the anxious person but also for anybody in a relationship with them.

The problem with perfectionism is that it acts as a moving target.  So what’s perfect in your standards may not be perfect in the next person’s, and what is perfect for you one day may not seem that it needs to be addressed as perfect the next day.  Senior citizens suffering from anxiety may not even be using the term perfection in their thoughts and logic, but it’s still represented by their efforts.  Striving for excellence is ok, but perfectionism can be hazardous to both their overall health and their relationships.  

Article written by Senior Directory, in conjunction with Pam Goodfriend, Psychotherapist.