I need suggestions and ideas on how to best handle my mother's anxiety attacks. I am her primary caregiver. My husband and I moved her from Nevada to Alaska and into our home approximately 2 months ago. She wanted the move to happen to be closer to my brother and I plus her dementia is bad enough to need daily supervision. She has been on board with the move and living with us all along.
Her anxiety attacks are usually triggered by the fear of being alone or left. This morning's attack was after I asked her if she wanted to go camping with my husband and I this weekend. She declined and was happy when I left for work. She fell apart an hour later.
I'm frustrated and feel manipulated. My head tells me that this is the disease but my emotions are getting the better of me and I'm angry.
Other than "talking her down" does any one have any other suggestions? My doctor told me that anxiety meds don't work well for the elderly. Does anyone have a parent who is on meds? Do they help?
Linda, I think you realize your mother is afraid to be alone, as well as even thinking about being alone. Her mind probably couldn't stop developing fearful situations of what would happen either if you did leave for the weekend or if she went with you and was presented with the wild Alaskan wilderness. She's probably lost her reasoning capability and was reacting to sheer terror and fear.
Could your brother stay with her while you're gone, starting for short periods of time and gradually extending them, or could she stay with him?
My mother used to experience this. I had to change my plans and stay home with her; then she was calm. I knew that if I did leave, she would have no way of getting out of the house if anything happaned, and I'm sure she realized that as well. Her fear, if not terror, was palpable. I would have been terrified in her situation as well.
My sister used to put on music for one of her dogs who had anxiety attacks when she left. Music does calm people as well, so it's worth a try.
Are there any neighbors who could stop by and visit?
That said, you need to assess as objectively as possible whether she is safe to be home alone, and see what else you could come up with that might relieve some fears, e.g. a printed schedule to follow for the day, an easy-to-use cell phone, a LifeLine, etc. If primary care doc is too uncomfortable with doing a real individualized plan that might or might not need to include medication, you probably want to get her a comprehensive geriatric evaluation or at least see a good geriatrician.