Anxiety attacks are not fun and if your senior is new to anxiety, they can be terrifying for her. Talk to your senior’s doctor first to rule out medical causes for your senior’s anxiety and then try some of these ideas when she’s in the midst of an anxiety attack. Eventually you’ll have a toolkit put together of techniques that usually work for her that you can both turn to when needed.
Look at Her Diet
Lots of what goes on in the human body is helped by proper nutrition. This sounds like a catch-all approach, but what you’re trying to do is to make sure that your senior’s brain and body are nutritionally supported. If that helps with anxiety, too, then that’s a bonus. Focus on a whole-foods diet whenever possible.
When your elderly family member first starts to feel anxiety creeping in, encourage her to take a quick break from whatever she’s doing. The anxiety may not have anything to do with the activity she’s engaged in, but walking away, going outside, or simply changing her scenery can all help her to interrupt whatever thought patterns were taking her down the road to anxiety.
Use Different Techniques to Bring Her Back
There are lots of little techniques that you and your senior can try to help her to anchor outside of anxiety. One easy one involves square breathing, which is simply breathing in for the count of four, holding for the count of four, exhaling for the count of four, and holding for the count of four before breathing again. This works because it slows her breathing down. Or you might try having her find red items in the room, like a variation on “I Spy.” Counting to 10 can also help.
Try to Learn Her Triggers
When your elderly family member is more familiar with her triggers, she can better avoid them whenever possible. This may involve journaling out what she’s feeling when she’s in the midst of anxiety so that she can dig a little bit deeper. It’s not something that she may find the answer to right away, but as she keeps looking, she’ll find more answers.
If being home alone is one of your senior’s most frequent anxiety triggers, then home care providers might be a good fit. They can offer companionship to your senior and help her to feel less anxious.