How to handle Mom's anxiety attacks?

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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?

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Lavender also has a calming influence.

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?
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My Mom woke up daily around 4am.. When we we'rent awake she would have a panic attack.. This went on for over 6 mths. We tried antidepressants but none worked.. FINALLY her Dr put her on resperidone and they stopped!!!!
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My mother used to have those attacks in the early morning. Sometimes she would get them so bad she would lose control of her bowels and she would call the ambulance. I can't tell you the number of times she ended up in ER, only to be sent home in a few hours. The more she feared she would have one, the more she had them. The doctor gave her colonzepan to take before bed and they stopped them from happening (provided she remembered to take one). The key is to prevent them from starting because the tranquilizer takes too long to work on an attack already happening. Mom's a nervous person and carried them around with her and would take 1/2 of one when she felt stressed. It was her crutch, just having them in her purse. Mom is now in her late 90's and has progressive dementia and a 5 minute memory. Three years ago, the attacks simply stopped and she has forgotten all about them, and fortunately about the "my pills" as she can't be trusted to take her own meds now. So maybe once you get the attacks under control for a while your mom will stop having them.
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Don't laugh, they really work. Have you tried essential oils? There are all kinds of blends you can make but they get expensive by the time you buy each oil. Just plain ole Peppermint Oil can help. You can put 5-6 drops in a diffuser or cool mist vaporizer; even just a couple drops on a Kleenex in a pocket or under pillow. Plus it makes everything smell really good.
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Get her to a geriatric psychiatrist to assess and prescribe. My mom is on Remeron, Zoloft and a low dose of Klonopin. Before she was on these meds, we were crazed with her anxiety, panic and awfulizing. They work!
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Linda, My client (91/F) is taking Alprazolam(xanax) half tab (0.25mg) after dinner. It's work for her great and when she is start complaining about her tummy ache around 4pm (always same time) I give her so I hold dinner time Xanax, It is also works!!? It is MAGIC pill for her. Please talk to her PCP, he/she might prescribe small amount of the pill.
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An antidepressant may help..it did with my mom.
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Panic attacks, especially in the setting of a lifelong anxious or depressive tendency, often respond incredibly well to SSRIs and they are really the first-line choice over benzodiazepines like Xanax or Ativan. Every medication has its risks, and after 30 years in healthcare I just had my first case where SSRI caused mania in a patient with a strong family history of bipolar and schizophrenia even though not diagnosed with it themselves. Bad effects from a low dose are not common, but YMMV. I think that doctor's statement is a little too much of a blanket generalization.

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.
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