What is up with extreme anxiety in our elders?

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Is there something useful about this from an evolutionary perspective? Has anyone found any way to quell it? Drugs are only helping my mom a bit.

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It seems to me that as a society, we have created a culture the breeds anxiety about aging, dying and death. We have culture idolizes youth and living eternally happy in the skin we came in, denying the reality of the curse of death and dying. It seems if we fail to be at peace with ourselves during our productive years, we are definitely going to fail to find peace during our years of decline.

There are many on these boards that have already reached the age where they are facing their own decline along with watching the decline of their loved ones. It seems that staying productive and giving back will go a long way for a more peaceful end. The main ingredient though, based on my observations, is being at peace with God; if someone has not made peace with Him, then the end is a very frightening experience. Instinctively, we know there is more than just this life, most will not deny that. There are many, many elderly who pass at peace, without anxiety medication. Just some thoughts.

FedUp, you have definitely fought the good fight, and you have a great sense of humor about it. Hoping many blessings come your way soon.
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This has such gems of insight on what is the basis of so many bad experiences with our complicated elders, and made me laugh so much, thanks
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In this house, (I can only answer for my experience, not conjecture about your situations but hope this helps), the over-reaction to small life events (such as ants) is a bid for attention, an expression of the anger my MIL has because she got old and her life is out of control: i.e. her husband is dead, she is living here instead of in her own condo, her body aches from arthritis and she is depressed. Depression is anger. She probably thinks she does a good job of keeping her feelings in check but in reality, she had the bad habit of constant complaining and she never liked anything even when she was in her forties. This also harks back to being an immigrant and feeling like an outsider when they came to live in the states. Such a major upheaval in her thirties was something she couldn't overcome. To feel better about herself, she snipes at others. I found that the only thing that helped was massage. Seniors are touch-starved. Hire someone even twice a month to come and give her a light body massage. I noticed my mother-in-law's mood changed after one of those. It was and still is a daily stuggle to get her to do anything. She wants to sit, do nothing, see nobody but but her son, and complain. I drew the line at that. I could not stand her depression stacked up on mine. It made the difference between me surviving her living here and wanting to go out into the back yard and put a bullet in my head. I have been open, honest, even blunt about this: I had to tell her I don't care anymore because she would have drowned me in her misery. There has to be a limit, a small circle of hope where I can escape to, that she can't enter. A place where no one else can strip away what little resilience I have. She hates that she can't control me and she never stops trying. But when I can't run away to a foreign place (after my own car accident walking 5 feet is difficult), I can sit on the back porch with a cup of coffee and watch the geese on the pond or a sunset. I can take photos with my digital camera and edit them. When I can't sleep and am tossing and turning in pain, I can meditate, listen to healing music, or help others who DO appreciate my efforts. I have no expectations that anything here will get better. Things will only get worse. It is not all about her anymore and she is never going to forgive me for that, and I don't care. An overreaction to anything going on in my MIL's life is and always was a bid for attention. The more they react, the more they want you to drop everything and run over there. I used to answer her phony calls for help until her friends tipped me off that she was just mad that my husband was living with me, not her. I told her, my marriage vows said "forsaking ALL others--that includes YOU!" and "til death do us part--I married him. I didn't rent him 'til his mommy wants him back!"
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People like Deeana scare the hell out of me. Medication may be an answer for the care giver but it is NOT a good answer for your parent. Drugging someone else because you can't deal with your life is immoral. My Mom was in an assisted living that put he on so many drugs that all she did was sleep. She couldn't talk anymore. She nearly died because she couldn't breathe and as long as she was quiet they could have cared less. DON"T GO DOWN THIS ROAD. We have finally got mom back to a level of health that I can call life (and into a decent AL). I am so glad to have my crabby mother back!
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Deeana, thanks for telling it like it is. And when medications don't work, get a sitter and go to a movie. Get away from them or YOU will be on medication sooner rather than later.
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The cause is age. Too many physiological causes to list here. These folks need to be medicated. Regularly.

I am speaking here as an R.N. I am getting old(er) and am tired, tired, tied of hearing "well, I don't WANT to take medication!" Why not, I ask??

Do you think it is BETTER somehow for you to "suffer"? Okay, is it better for those of us around you for you to suffer? Because, remember, we have to listen to you!

Wait, you don't want to take medication because it "makes you goofy"? Sorry. You are already "goofy". Plus you are tapping your fingers, fidgeting, pacing your room (if you can walk), sighing, and generally being a pain in the aZZ.

Xanax. Ativan. And less popular these days, but still out there, Valium. There is really no other long-term solution at this point. You can distract them, divert them, and play as much soothing music as you want.

But what you really need to do is medicate them. And I hope when MY time comes, someone will be kind enough to medicate me. Rather than allow me to sit around, pace around, picking at my skin, "pill rolling", tapping, etc. etc.etc.
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Kady, thank you so much for the advice! Will try it!
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Mom has CHF. Whenever we would get ready for a dr appt or do anything our of the ordinary she got anxious and frankly very bitchy. I was recently told the there is a true physicological reason for it. The anxiety causes the heart to beat faster and not a efficiently. That in turn causes less oxygen to get to the brain. The causes the anxiety and the mood swing. Knowing that I was able to diffuse it by getting her ready to go ahead of time and out the door before she started to escilate and we just added a visit to the mall or her favorite grocery store beofre the dr appt. This made her extra happy and saved my nurves too.
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Thank you all for the lovely posts, advice and notes. What I am not getting is that my mom, who has EVERYTHING taken care of for her by her three children, still feels like terrible things can happen to her. I am going to assume that this is a result of the fact that she lost her dad at the age of 2 and for whatever reason, never really felt truly secure again, until my Dad took over. He's been gone since "92. The three of us siblings were charged with looking after her, and we have, but she just doesn't seem to feel the ease that she did when my Dad was around. She's in a nice IL facility, but if there are ants, back up of the sink, blown out lightbulb, she goes into panic mode. I think this is just who she is at this point in time. Thanks so much to you all!
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Mishka, I don't think it is about loving something AWAY but more about loving someone IN SPITE of that something...loving them enables them to see that THEY are valued more than the undesirable component or trait is unliked or even despised...this allows the overcoming because it loses its power to take away contentment and hope. And then, hopefully, things become gradually easier to handle and accept...it isn't instant.

But it is more like a change in perception. Dr Phil says perception is reality and I tend to agree. What we are comes from within us but we let the external factors fool and divert us.

And what applies to our dealings with self also goes along with how we interact with others. But you have to start with self.

A few years ago, I decided I would find something I admired in every person I met, no matter how I felt about the person or whatever...and so that principle I first had to apply to myself. So when I get down on myself for things I evidently at this time am still unable to change (and therefore, must accept to have peace)...I switch my focus to that something that I admire about myself...which varies, I think, depending on what I'm dissing myself about.

Its so easy to overlook and deal with issues with my mom and her human imperfection when I embrace my own. It's a wonderful relief to no longer feel I should maintain a facade of perfect nurse/perfect caregiver/perfect daughter. The only thing I'm perfect at is being a flawed fallible human!

I'm beginning to suspect that a lot of what many elders now externalize, verbally...is now new or different or even new to them...it is simply their inner voice that no longer has to be squelched or censored. They don't have to keep up the facade anymore, because the truth is..well...the facade has fallen down on its own and it can't get up!
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