Anxiety: Caring for an aging parent is filled with highs and lows.
You’ll love spending time with your dad, but it’s complicated when that parent has anxiety, which is common with some types of dementia. If your parent is constantly anxious, what are the best ways to provide the necessary care without increasing the anxiety?
Anxiety can appear at any moment. Anything will set him off, which frustrates you. Be patient because your reaction may add to his stress. If you can’t take it anymore, step into another room for a few minutes and return with a clear head.
Learn to Distract Him
Learn to distract your dad by taking him for a walk, turning on music, or doing something goofy. If he’s surprised by your actions, he’s likely to switch his focus from his anxiety to what you’re doing. He might question you, or he might ask if he can join in.
Make Sure He Gets Enough Sleep
When you’re tired, anxiety can worsen. Make sure your dad is getting enough sleep. Figure out what wakes him up. Is he waking up with a full bladder and needs to go to the bathroom? Does he have medicines that cause side effects?
Help your dad get enough sleep but creating the right environment. Room darkening shades help keep streetlights from waking your dad up. He should limit his water intake after dinner to avoid waking in the middle of the night. If medications cause issues with his sleep pattern, talk to his doctor. Ensure his room isn’t too hot.
Follow the Two Components of Well-Being
Help your dad avoid some anxiety by helping him do the things that are good for his well-being. He needs to get 30 minutes of exercise each day. Join him for a Tai Chi or Yoga class, go for a walk, or put on a game like Wii Sports.
Eat a balanced diet that contains whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein, and a lot of fresh vegetables. Vegetables should be the food he eats the most each day. Fresh fruit is also important.
Is He Feeding Off Your Stress?
If you’re tense, your dad might be feeding off your stress. Take breaks when you need them. If you want to visit with friends, hire senior care services. Caregivers take over your dad’s care while you step out for a few hours.
Call a senior care agency and ask about respite care services. Whether you want to take a break for a few hours or plan to go away for a weekend, senior care aides give you peace of mind that your dad is not alone and they can help with his anxiety.