Is Anxiety Affecting Your Ability To Feel Connected, Confident or Calm?
Are you afraid of being alone as you get older? Do you see people around you becoming ill or passing away, causing you to experience grief and feel anxious about your own mortality? Do you have health issues that are causing you to contemplate what-ifs and worry about your physical wellbeing? Are you afraid of becoming dependent on others? Do you worry that your life is without value and that younger generations are not interested in hearing the wisdom you’d like to impart? Have the above concerns and others caused you to experience racing, repetitive and sometimes illogical thoughts? Or, do you often feel helpless, isolated or avoidant of situations that you perceive as stressful? Has anxiety and stress manifested physically, causing you to experience tremors, shallow breathing, a racing heart or a change in eating and/or sleeping patterns? Do you wish you could find a way to relax, experience meaningful connections with others and enjoy the peacefulness that you always imagined would come with your elder years?
Living with anxiety can be an isolating, limiting and even frightening experience. You may have suffered from low-level or chronic anxiety throughout most of your life or maybe new thoughts, feelings, or life situations have suddenly elicited feelings of stress and fear. The financial, health and grief issues that often come with aging can create or compound anxious feelings and impact how you think and feel about yourself, as well as affect you physically. Anxiety can often manifest through feelings of agitation, excessive worry and fear, and sometimes lead to social withdrawal and depression.
Many Seniors Are Affected By Heightened Anxiety
Although society offers images of the golden years as being a peaceful and relaxing time spent enjoying retirement and grandchildren, that is not the case for many seniors. In fact, a high percentage of seniors are deeply concerned about finances, health issues and feel immobilized, lonely or highly anxious. The life transition into the senior years comes with a lot of changes, and change can be scary. Furthermore, many of these changes can be drastic and come without warning, such as the loss of a spouse or a major health issue. These major life transitions can be difficult to cope with and create anxious thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Although it’s common to feel anxious during transitions, especially if you’ve been prone to anxiety throughout your life, if unchecked, anxiety symptoms can become limiting and even crippling. While some anxiety is normal and even expected, if anxiety is limiting you socially, causing heightened emotional responses, preventing you from living the life you want to live, or creating dramatic changes in behavior, getting help may be critical and can provide you with enormous relief.
Therapy Can Help You Better Understand And Manage Your Anxiety
Therapy for seniors struggling with anxiety can be extremely effective. Even just talking though anxious thoughts, feelings, and body sensations with someone who really understands both the anxiety and senior experience can provide incredible relief. In a safe, nonjudgmental and confidential environment, you BPS therapist can provide you with an outlet, support, and guidance as you contemplate your life’s path and identify, explore, and address difficult emotions and life situations.
Your BPS therapist can help you work though any negative self-talk or self-limiting behaviors that may be causing you pain. You can shift out of negative or fearful thinking by exploring your strengths and resources and making proactive choices to create social connections and find meaning and joy in your life. You can begin to take small things less personally and instead focus your energy on activities and relationships that create meaning and value in your life. Your therapist can also provide you with breathing, calming, mindfulness and body awareness techniques, which can be used to mitigate anxiety symptoms, as well as life contemplation tools.
With help and a willingness to try something different, it is possible for you to enjoy a more positive life perspective and live with increased calmness and confidence. Your BPS therapist can help you come to terms with where you are currently in your life, as well as build a new, less worrisome, and more joyous path forward.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I think that therapy could be helpful, but I’m on a fixed income and concerned about costs.
This is your life and wellbeing, and the physical, emotional and mental, as well as financial, costs of an untreated anxiety disorder can be high. Addressing symptoms and related issues now can not only make you feel better sooner, but it can also prevent negative feelings from worsening, which can lead to isolation, depression, and/or physical health complications.
Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with seniors struggling with anxiety or who they couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct an initial assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced to work with seniors experiencing anxiety and whose personality is a good match for yours. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to yourself may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine feeling and functioning better now and in the long-term on a regular basis and ask yourself what that’s worth.
If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find other lower cost resources in the community.
At this point in my life, I’m not sure that investing time, money and energy into therapy is really worth it.
Research and supporting evidence show over and over again that humans continue to learn and grow as they age, and that positive self-growth and development activities, such as therapy, can stave off dementia and other debilitating mental and physical afflictions. The key point here is that you are never too old for therapy. Your brain will continue to change until you take your last breath and staying engaged and learning can help mitigate anxiety symptoms and prevent new ones from developing. Furthermore, therapy can help you come to terms with where you’ve been in life, where you currently are, and where you want to go. It’s never too late to explore new ways to connect, share, and grow.
I’ve suffered from anxiety my whole life. I’m used to it now and cannot see how therapy can undo so many years of thinking and feeling a certain way.
Anxiety – regardless of how old you are or how long you’ve been suffering – is very treatable. Anxiety symptoms can be worked through, if you chose to, and your quality of life can improve. It’s never to late to try.
Therapy can be effective in treating anxiety, especially when you work with a therapist who understands seniors, anxiety, and with whom you relate well. Even if you have unsuccessfully tried to manage anxiety in the past, you may have been working with the wrong therapist for you or maybe you were not in the right place in your life to commit to the therapeutic work. Now, as a senior, you may have entered into a life phase that is naturally composed of a lot of looking back on your life and self-reflection. If you are ready to feel something different, your BPS therapist can help you calm the racing thoughts, emotional struggles, and physical symptoms that anxiety creates. It is never too late to learn effective techniques, shift perspective, and create a more comfortable and joyous life.
We encourage you to schedule an initial assessment with Dr. Jan Hittelman. Jan will work with you to determine what your specific issues are and ensure a good match between you and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you with a therapist who has expertise treating seniors with anxiety.
BPS therapist David Robbins, LPC helped create the content for this page. David is a licensed professional counselor whose approach to psychotherapy is client-centered, gentle, empathic and collaborative. He has been working with seniors struggling with anxiety since 2006.