Anxiety is a big part of life for some people, but others might only experience it during significant times in their own lives.
One of those significant times for your senior might be near the end of her life. Anxiety at this stage of life can be disturbing and can seriously interfere with her comfort.
It’s Completely Normal
Anxiety feels anything but normal for most people. Your aging family member may experience only mild anxiety or she might have full-blown panic attacks. She could even experience both at different times. The best thing to remember is that anxiety is manageable and that this is not something to worry about.
Your Family Member Might Be Distracted
The cognitive impact of anxiety is complicated. Your senior may be thinking through all of the possibilities and the “what ifs” that could happen and when it might happen. This can distract her from what she really needs and wants to be doing with the end of her life.
She Might Have Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can take form in a variety of different ways. Usually, there are physical symptoms that can range from trouble sleeping to increased heart rate, trouble breathing, or nausea. In extreme cases, she may even vomit or experience other digestive issues that can be upsetting for her. The biggest aspect of helping your senior to recover from a panic attack is for you to remain calm. That can help her to regain her focus.
She Might Be Worried that She’s Closer to the End than She Is
One of the scariest parts of anxiety and panic attacks for your aging family member could be that she worries that they mean she’s closer to the end of her life than she is. Many people mistake panic attacks for heart attacks, especially if they’ve never experienced panic attacks before. Having someone explain panic attacks and what they mean to your elderly family member can help.
End-of-life Care Providers Can Help with Anxiety Management
End-of-life care services and your senior’s doctor are familiar with anxiety around this change in her life. They can help you and your family member to determine what works best for her and what helps her to have the most peace during this time. For some people, medication is a useful tool, while others benefit from biofeedback or other techniques.
Once you know how anxiety manifests for your family member, it will be easier for you and for her to deal with it. You can also start to learn what triggers anxiety for her. Often talking about what she’s experiencing and what she’s afraid of can help her to work through those feelings.