Mother has always been a worrier but since she has been ill she worries about everything. How can I help relieve her anxiety?


Mother (age 93) has mobility and heart issues, is on oxygen, and takes medications for pain and depression. She has always been a pessimistic person but since she has gotten sick her worrying has become intense. She lives in my house with my father who is bedridden. In order for me to cope with the barrage of problems, both small and large, each day I have tried to detach and solve whatever problems come up. But in the meantime until the problem can be resolved my mother obsesses over when something will get fixed and that she is going to die if it is not fixed right away, etc. The caregivers tell her "white lies" so she does not obsess over things. I have learned that there is no reasoning with her or trying to explain anything mainly because she is very hard of hearing and it would not help anyway. I just want to understand why she is so intense and how I can better alleviate her anxiety.

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Oh I know the pessimistic mind well. Been redirecting my Mom's thoughts for years. Well before she'd gotten sick. Oye

She would turn a good situation into a possible horror, in one tall leap! Looking here....real examples....

Hey Mom, Billy signed up for school to be a pharmacy technician.

Oh, I hope he doesn't get addicted to drugs, you know, being around them and all. That does happen.

(Kid never had a drug problem)

Hey Mom, Joey got his first car!

Hope he don't crash. Even a small bump can paralyzed a person if hit just right.

Yep, I know this well... Xanax really helps. Good luck!
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Reply to Pepsee

It sounds as though your mother's mental status has changed.

What sort of doctor is prescribing antidepressants? She may need an additional med, or a different one.

And shaking, my mom prayed numerous rosaries everyday. Did little to alleviate her anxiety. Meds were the only thing that helped.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

When my mother first moved into my home, she exhibited an anxious state where she seemed to worry about everything too. Part of that was leaving my Dad behind in memory care but I came to believe a larger part was the emotional and verbal abuse my older brother had used in an attempt to get my Mom to "mind" better. She was watching out the windows, concerned he would show up - which he did. After I was able to send him away and he stayed away for a few weeks, the anxiety behavior went away. It only surfaces occasionally now in a mild form when I leave Mom alone in the house or her abuser visits his son who lives next door.

Is there some one "big" thing bothering your mother that could be driving the general anxious state? My mother won't often tell me straight out what her issue is, but if I open the conversation about something she's been doing (Mom, how come you're going through your purse - are you looking for something?) and listen patiently, she usually gets around to giving me a clue about what's actually bothering her.

Your mother may be at a point that she needs anti-anxiety medication as 97yroldmom suggested, but she might just be at a point where she has difficulty coping with an issue and "expands" her concerns. if you can identify and reduce her anxiety over the major concern, the overall anxiety behaviors may diminish too.
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Reply to TNtechie

I’m not sure if this is helpful but try reading about rumination and thoughts stuck in a loop. If that seems to fit then speak to her doctor about this problem or see if she can see a geriatric psychiatrist  for a possible medication adjustment to help ease her anxiety.
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Reply to 97yroldmom

She may be spending too much time at home. Take her out.
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Reply to Sendhelp

Are the things that need fixing major issues? Such as plumbing leaks? If not, and they're not fixed right away, what's the worse thing that could happen and how would it affect family life?

Perhaps if she can be comfortable with the fact that nothing significant will happen, she can focus on something else.

And that's another issue. Can you create projects for her to keep her mind more occupied so she doesn't worry as much?

Maybe you could also enlist her help in prioritizing by asking her which repairs are the most critical? Could she analyze in that way and help determine the priorities?

It might also be that she doesn't feel as though she's a part of the repair projects and is focusing on them too much just b/c she has no control over the repairs.
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Reply to GardenArtist