Do you find yourself worrying more than the average person? It’s okay! Worrying is a common and natural feeling, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. Extreme worrying could mean you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety may be difficult to detect as you get older. Symptoms may be subtle and deemed as unimportant. Some symptoms may be accepted or ignored as just a natural part of aging.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common form of anxiety. It’s marked by extreme or unreasonable worry lasting six months or more that is difficult to control. You may notice some Physical symptoms that show up as well. These can include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension, headaches
- Constipation or other gastrointestinal problems
Anxiety disorders affect 3 – 14% of older adults in a given year, according to the National Institutes of Health. In addition to GAD, anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Untreated anxiety can lead to cognitive impairment, disability, poor physical health, and a poor quality of life.
An important part of preventing isolation that can lead to anxiety later in life is maintaining social interactions. Here are some tips on how to do just that.
Local senior programs and virtual centers
To reduce isolation and improve emotional health, social interaction has to be a priority. Many communities have services and programs so older adults can engage with others and take up new activities and hobbies. Some involve spending time with children or teens.
Don’t forget internet forums or Facebook groups. People “meet” to talk about a common interest in places like our community forum. For people without access to programs in their area, it’s an easy alternative.
There are many different types of technology that can keep older adults engaged after retirement. It might be a gadget to remind you to take medications, a personal emergency response system around your neck or wrist, a smartphone that summons help at the push of a button or a simplified, preprogrammed device.
These phone and app-based services provide an outlet for older adults who may not be close to family or have friends, or who live in rural areas or suburbia where community programs are more rare.
Some older adults may avoid social situations because they lack confidence due to vision, hearing or cognitive decline. Technology can be a great way to keep them in touch with the rest of the world.
Older adults today can take part in activities and visit loved ones without having to depend on friends or family for a ride. Ride-sharing services are an excellent option, particularly for those living at home. Lyft or Uber, for instance, have partnerships with health care companies, to make ride-sharing more accessible. With these services, older adults can schedule a ride through a brief phone call instead of through the app, eliminating technology barriers.
Isolation Is Preventable
There’s no question about it, it’s challenging to remain social after retirement, but social isolation is preventable. Knowing where the resources are, and using technology to supplement in-person contact, can mitigate loneliness and depression.
Don’t stress yourself out though. Anxiety is something you can manage with medication or therapy. Managing anxiety is different for every individual, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for you. Make sure that you take advantage of Medicare now covering some mental health care.