How to Treat Older People With Anxiety



Observe and take notes of behavior. If you suspect anxiety in an older adult, use a checklist of symptoms as the first step to treatment. Apathy, loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, loss of confidence, irritability, change of habits, lack of ability to sleep--these are all symptoms of anxiety in older adults, according to Anxiety Disorders Association of America.


Begin by taking the elderly individual to her primary care physician. It's important that the doctor be one she is familiar with and can trust. The doctor will then advise her about possible further steps and what treatment is available.


The elderly individual may need to consult a mental health professional to discuss his anxiety, talking through important issues, and, more often than not, prescribing anti-depressants and/or administering Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a method of treatment that involves relaxation training, replacing negative thoughts with realistic ones, and exposure to fears, according to Healthy Place.


Form a support system (a team effort) with your family, the elderly individual and the doctors involved in treatment. Make sure everyone is communicating efficiently and providing comfort and support during the treatment process. Do not make the patient feel like she is on the outside or that the family and doctors are keeping something from her. Keep her in the loop.

Tips and Warnings

  • Anxiety in older adults is treatable, but recovery is not guaranteed. The condition is often tied to illness or degenerating health, so treatment might merely improve the patient's way of life, not get rid of the anxiety. However, treatment is worth the time and effort in most cases.
  • When people think of sickness and mental conditions in older adults, they are more likely to think of Alzheimer's and depression before they think of anxiety. But anxiety is as common in the elderly as it is in younger individuals. The condition takes a much different form, however, in older adults, and treatment should be handled with attention and precision. Underestimating the effects of anxiety in older adults could make the condition worse.