Follow
Share

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.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
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.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

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
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

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!"
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

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!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

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.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

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.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Kady, thank you so much for the advice! Will try it!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

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.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

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!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

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!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I wish I could love my OCD away! Or get loved enough to take it away! Drugs help me tremendously. But with the elderly IDK. It is a hard call as their communication can be so skewed.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

After 17 years of caregiving with no end in sight, I have quit looking for the magic key to make things better. I am in total survival mode. I avoid her as much as possible. Drugs sometimes make things worse. Love is not always the answer. Sometimes there are no answers--just endurance. The only sign from God I want to see is, "FOR RENT." People who could only survive by sucking the life out of others didn't last long way back when.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Oh I wish I could remember the comedian who did the "dinner race" ("Roast Beef on the outside, followed by Mashed Potatoes, Gravy coming up from behind....")!

So, as far as the anxiety thing, I vote for a mix of native anxiety no longer controlled emotions, combined with the realization that one is absolutely HELPLESS. If my 97 year old neighbor falls she can NOT get up on her own. She is 100% dependent on others to survive. So yeah, that would be scary, & add that to whatever personality quirks the person had to begin with 17 call a day to the family members who (not surprisingly) quit answering their phones!

FedUp --Any way you can put these two birdies on the phone together and let them whine & kvetch to each other for a few hours a day directly about the misery of the universe and keep you out of the mix? Maybe don't even ask...just whisper "it's for you" and hand the phone off....
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

In that next to the last paragraph, above,
I meant
"they find NO way to continue"...
(instead of 'to" - I don't see how to edit my post?)
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

What is up with extreme anxiety in our elders?
*FEAR*

F alse
E vidence
A ppearing
R eal



Is there something useful about this from an evolutionary perspective?
Yes. But I'm not sure of the details or process. I just know that the first four letters of EVOLution, when reversed, spell the antithetical power that fights against FEAR.

Has anyone found any way to quell it?
With "the antithetical power that fights against FEAR," which is LOVE.

Drugs are only helping my mom a bit.
And I (personally but I speak only for self) am convinced that "a bit" is probably the maximum benefit available from drugs. Man-made chemicals aren't even on the same track as the underlying pathogen and cure behind what we all perceive as anxiety. They end up doing their own (usually detrimental if not right away then later on) damage, causing imbalance in a system that is already imbalanced because of the anxiety. They might help a bit at first but very often just exacerbate the initial woe as time goes on.


Whether we, as caregivers are able or willing to, see this anxiety as legitimate and proportional to the situation...or not, the truth of the matter is that those we care for, riddled with anxiety, DO. To them it is very real and very large and probably for many of the elders, it is the first time in their lives that they have come up against obstacles around which they find to way to continue...no detour or off-ramp or even a battering ram to take it straight on. They can do NOTHING about their fears anymore like they used to (or at least ideally, it might seem) do for their children or whomever...they are then faced not only with fear but with powerlessness.

It must be hard. And then add to that the fact that we just can't understand this on a first hand experience type level, or at least many of us I should say...because so far we've met no obstacles that we couldn't overcome in SOME way. There is no way to overcome old age. Except, of course, by dying.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

FedUp, your post is priceless!!! Thanks ROTFLMAO :-)
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

As long as I'm in hot water already, I may as well heat up the kettle some more. I wrote this one day when I couldn't stand anymore whining:

BLAZING SADDLES: My friend Judy’s mother-in-law and stepmother seem to be in a race with mine to win the Demanding Derby, vying for more attention than we can possibly give. We're at the gate. There's the bell--and they're off!

Rounding the first bend is "Little Old Constipated Lady," followed by
"I Hava Da Hives." Bringing up the rear is "Needs Another Enema." Here comes
"I Don’t Like Shrimp" gaining on "I Am Having Da Vorst Headache In Da Whole Vorld!" Running neck and neck are "You Haven't Called Me Since This Morning" and "I Wanna Die."

Ohmygawd! Will ya look at that! They've been edged out by
"Suffering More Than Anybody in the Spanish Inquisition."

Overtaking them all is "My Dotter-in-Law Don't Liking Me." Close on her tail is
"I Can’t Do Nuttin’ Without Al." It's gonna be a close call but here they come:
"I Wanna Die" on the inner rail, "All I Get Is A Kickinna Ass" on the outer rail and "Nobody Has Any Problems But Me" by a nose. And at the finish it's
"All I Get Is a Kickinna Ass" to the Whiner’s Circle! Will someone please wake up the jockey so we can present her award?!
Helpful Answer (8)
Report

Sorry for my blatant exaggeration. Ever since she was 76 my MIL would call up every other day or so and insist, "I will be dead any day now." "I want to see my Al once last time before I close my eyes." I told her, "You have no specific morbidity--better find something to do because you will live to at least 98." She would wave her hands dismissively. Guess who's gonna be dead any day now for the last 22 years and still has better heart function than me and better kidney function than my husband?! YUP! Good OL' I'LL BE DEAD ANY DAY NOW. If only!!!!!
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

987 yr old mil Too Funny Still Laughing
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Some people have anxiety over real threats to their health and lives, such as your father, KatZen and other people have anxiety because they are bored, ill-tempered, jealous, narcissistic and don't give a rat's behind about my anxiety as their caregiver. Let's see, what do I have to be anxious about? 1) My husband's kidney transplant is failing and he will be back on dialysis again. I won't be able to lift his mother by myself because she is a two-person lift. We have been married nearly 50 years and I worry if he will be here next year. 2) My daughter at 36 had a pulmonary embolism and was in CCU for 12 weeks. I took care of her while taking care of my husband while taking care of my 987 year-old mother-in-law. 3) My son went to South Africa to help exhume bodies of people killed in Apartheid. He was stabbed in the back, was given a blood transfusion there and now has AIDS. 4) I was in a car accident two years ago. A dead tree fell on my car while I was driving, crushing 4 vertebrae and breaking one. Blowing out my knee and five teeth. I am still going to PT and Acupuncture for the constant pain I am in 24/7. Before these current things to worry about, I took care of my mother who died of breast cancer, my father for 11 years who finally died of prostate cancer and my father-in-law who had Parkinson's and dementia for 17 years. What, indeed, could I possibly have to worry about???!!!!! Forgive me KatZen that I don;t have time to worry about my MIL crapping about how she isn't happy. Tough shit!!! I'M NOT HAPPY! I just soldier on the best I can and keep my problems from my friends and children.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Interesting question, my father in the last two months has lost his ability to drive, live alone and feel independent. If I did not welcome him into my home (which was never a question) he would be forced into a nursing home. He lives on social security and a small pension. He was born during the depression and has lived through five wars, participating in one of them (Korea). He has seen man go to the moon, put satellites in space, go from 3 stations on TV to 300, cell phone, microwaves and so many other inventions that people take for granted today. All of which could be taken away in a moment if he falls splits open his head because he can not walk so well any longer or his oxygen stops working because of his COPD. I cannot imagine why he has anxiety.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

@ fedupnow,
i completely agree with you. i once done a 14 month hepc treatment that made a walking skeleton out of me. my 17 yr old son worked with me and i made a point to never groan, sigh, or complain. didnt want to beat him down with it. i think a lot of elders came from big families where you had to have bubonic plague six months a year just to stand out and get attention. my mothers idea of conversation for 60 years has been her health issues. its simple to me. when you get out of bed in the morning and immediately start bellyaching nobody will ask anything out of you all day. its already been established that your feeling brokedick..
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

I am an "elder" - well, at 65 yrs. and my husband is almost 87 and we don't have anymore anxiety than young people. In fact, with secure lifetime incomes, we have less to be anxious about than younger people. We just have to take good care of ourselves and mother nature will handle the rest. It all depends on whether or not you choose to let things bother you. The longest elders living let things roll off their shoulders, are kind to others, and don't worry about their health. A strong belief system is also necessary as is loving friends. Family members are not always loving though. Don't ever underestimate the power of aging!
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Cranky selfish old people were once cranky, selfish young people. I have taken care of several people including my grandparents. My mother died of breast cancer and moaned at night from the pain in her bones but she wanted to live every moment. Her mother died of pneumonia at a much older age and she didn't complain either. There are sweet elderly people who deal with unbearable tragedies and soldier on. And then there are the whiners, snivelers, misery incorporated who are mad that they are growing old and take it out on their caregivers. My grandmother had senile dementia, too. If she got out of the house, she tried to go back to her hometown to make supper for her four children (long grown and gone) but she never complained. The complainers are in a league of their own. If you look back, you will see it has been one of their habits even then.
Helpful Answer (6)
Report

Evolution doesn't act on the very old, only on the ones young enough to leave offspring. Of course, old people were once the young people, so the same general makeup is still in place. It just has some wear and tear, and some of it has quit working altogether. The answer could be simpler than evolution.
Extreme anxiety can be caused by many things. Some of the big causes in the elderly could be medications, boredom, anxiety disorders, dementia, or being around people all day who make them nervous. These are all things worth looking into.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Living in a culture that reinforces the idea that being old is synonymous with being useless and of no value certainly increases anxiety in old age. Mom has Alzheimers and can't age in place (per the police in the little town where she lived, who picked he up and dropped her at the local psych ward, where I picked her up and had to sign paperwork saying she would not go back home). As a culture we don't know how to value our children or our elders. That's enough to make anyone feel useless.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

i depict a european neanderthal elder after becoming too frail to contribute , ocd'ing, handwringing and bitchin till it invoked someone to push em off a ledge thus conserving resources for the rest of the clan, so yes i think the behavior has an evolutionary back story.
Helpful Answer (5)
Report

My Mom takes Abilify. Is that what is causing her extra anxiety?
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I gotch on the other thread. In questions. Personally I think a lot of people have anxiety their whole lives but once they cannot keep themselves busy and their bodies become sedentary the worry gets worse. Does that make sense? My mom is a OCD worrier and she kept herself so busy , every friggin' minute of the day until her huge glass of wine before bed that she was able to quell those worries. Now she is stuck in her wheel chair and unable to keep busy so she worries more. And makes my Dad do things. He can't sit for 3 minutes before she is telling him to fix that or get her this. She needs that control and she cannot stand to see anyone else relax when she cannot. Poor Dad. I am giving him break in a few weeks. He needs it. Get breaks yourself!!!
My Mom won't take the SSRI drugs she should because she gains some weight on them. She is tiny and needs to gain weight but she has always had issues about her weight. Also she says they don't work but she only takes them for 3 or so weeks and it usually takes up 8 or 9 weeks to work and, I think a full 6 mos for optimum results.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.