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How to Identify Symptoms of Anxiety in Nursing Home Residents

nursing home abuse and neglect

5 Causes of Nursing Home Resident Anxiety

Unfortunately, for many reasons’ anxiety happens more often by long-term care residents than by those who live in the general community. Several recent studies published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry identified common rates for anxiety disorders in long-term care settings escalated as high as 20 percent compared to just 1.4 percent of the elderly living at home. And while there are many causes for anxiety, some being natural occurrences in line with mental illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease or dementia and medication side-effects, anxiety can also run parallel with emotional responses to anticipated pain, danger, illness, or fear.

  1. Pain

Pain is common in nursing homes but can and should be managed. When not dealt with, residents may have anxiety about performing daily activities, such as dressing and self-care. Painful pressure ulcers or bed sores are a common complaint among nursing home residents who are neglected.

  1. Support

Families can help their loved one’s while in a nursing home by providing social support when a facility is failing to do so. Visiting often, bringing in foods and activities they like, as well any medical aids that help your loved one hear, see, or that encourage their physical and mental fitness can help.

  1. Depression

Nearly 20 percent of long-term care residents experience depression and an additional 30 percent have significant depressive symptoms. These feelings are likely to trigger anxiety as well but can also be treated at risk of overmedicating or sedating.

  1. Ongoing Illness

Mayo Clinic identifies several medical problems that can be linked to anxiety including heart disease, respiratory disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

  1. Trauma

A fall or infection that could have been prevented. Staff who neglect hygiene, medication, or dietary needs. Verbal, physical, sexual or financial abuse of a resident. Tragically, these are all true examples of traumatic events nursing home residents face each and every day in Illinois.

Talk to the nursing home administrator if you observe your loved one having anxiety of in any kind.

How to Identify Symptoms of Anxiety

In many cases, medical conditions like anxiety are treatable when caught early. The symptoms for anxiety include:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating, trembling and feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Having difficulty controlling worry
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

All of these factors are common among residents of long-term care, and so may account for the higher prevalence of anxiety within this setting. But failing to consider the quality of life of residents is a persistent, form of nursing home neglect that can no longer be ignored and may identify underlying abuse.

Levin & Perconti: Illinois Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys

Since 1992, our attorneys have been dedicated to fighting for elderly rights in any care setting. If someone you love has been subjected to poor treatment in a nursing home, let our attorneys help you get answers. Consultations with our attorneys are both free and confidential. Please call us at (312) 332-2872 or complete our free online consultation request form.

Source: Creighton, A.S., T.E. Davison, and D.W. Kissane, The prevalence of anxiety among older adults in nursing homes and other residential aged care facilities: A systematic review. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2016.