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Rediscovering A New Surge of Courage by Sundown

anxiety counseling for seniors, Carolina Counseling Services, senior counseling, senior anxiety, anxiety counseling fayetteville nc

Rediscovering A New Surge of Courage by Sundown


Ilse Telesmanic, Dorothy Davenhill Hirsch, and D., Leila Denmark… What do they have in common? They are amazing people, not only because they have accomplished so much, but because they persisted to be productive when they reached their senior years.

Ilse Telesmanic was 90 when she hiked in South Africa. She kept up during the three weeks, despite a sprained ankle. Dorothy Davenhill Hirsch was 89 when she went on board the Russian Nuclear Ice Breaker, Yamal at a plunging North Pole temperature of negative 43°C. Dr. Leila Denmark worked as a pediatrician until she was 103; she was a super centenarian and lived until she was 114.

Not only are they admirable for their senior accomplishments and sheer strength and determination, but also for their courage. At this late age, one too many senior adults have already succumbed to anxiety. Studies reveal that it is highly prevalent among seniors aged 65 and over – the reason why it is referred to as the “geriatric giant.”


The “Silent Geriatric Giant” –  Realities to Understand

Adults are vulnerable to developing anxiety. This explains its high prevalence in this demographic group. It is “… twice as common as the dementias (8%) and four to eight times more prevalent than major depressive disorder (1-3%.” Despite the “gargantuan” statistics, many continue to struggle with the condition. Geriatric anxiety is said to be “silent” because it is frequently undiagnosed, and the symptoms are often unrecognized, ignored or missed. Undiagnosed, the case runs the risk of not being treated.

Recognizing the geriatric anxiety symptoms can be challenging. Becoming weaker and stricken with multiple medical and cognitive conditions, the symptoms may not be easy to tell apart. Some associate the changes with aging. These can similarly be heightened forms of typical worries or manifestations of personality traits. The symptoms may also overlap with the symptoms of their other conditions. When seniors “somatize” (the process of emotions affecting the physical self) their emotional issues, the manifestations may also be further complicated. If they are on “polypharmacy” (on multiple medications), their caregivers, even their doctors, may confuse these as side effects.

Seniors are vulnerable to developing anxiety partly because of their growing physical concerns. These can increase their dependency on others. As their partners/spouses, relatives, peers and friends pass away, the grim reality of the nearing end may increase their fears. Among seniors, the prevalent anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), agoraphobia, specific phobia, and social anxiety disorder. The less common types are panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


The Red Flags That Should Not Be Ignored

The outlook of anxiety can be improved with early diagnosis and treatment, even among those in their later years. Though changes can be expected at this stage, aging need not strip off the quality of your life because of anxiety. For instance, having “seen it all,” you could be more placid and confident. If life had not been kind, there is a chance that you could become an excessive worrier. Knowing the many unwanted possibilities and dangers, it can be difficult not to worry. This should not be dismissed. It might be an indicator of anxiety.

In many cases, the symptoms may present itself in terms of physical complaints, such as gastric queasiness, weakness and headache. You may also experience insomnia or oversleeping, or lack of appetite or overeating.  You may also exhibit irritability, poor concentration, restlessness, and feel muscle tension. Weighed down by these manifestations, you may avoid, or become obsessively preoccupied, with your routine activities. The worst-case scenario can be the co-occurrence of anxiety with depression.

What are the risk factors? Especially at risk are those with chronic medical conditions, particularly when they are taking many medications. If you have experienced stressful or traumatic life events, substance abuse or you’re going through complicated grief after a loss, be vigilant as these can leave you more vulnerable to anxiety. Physical and cognitive impairment that may limit mobility, social interactions and activities are additional risk factors among seniors.


The Incapacitating Consequences

The chronic conditions and physical difficulty will, sooner or later, catch up with you. It can lead you to increased dependency on others. Combined with anxiety, aging can dampen your “spirit” and zap your energy faster. With the restricted mobility and ability to perform daily tasks, you might become more dependent on your family or caregiver. The circumstance can affect your compliance to treatment of your medical condition, as well as anxiety. Without a relative to take care of you or the means to hire a caregiver, there can be that possibility of being admitted into a hospital or assisted living residence.

Anxiety can stand in the way of an active life as it contributes to the impairment of your cognitive functions, lowering of self-esteem, and increasing social isolation.  It can also increase your risk to depression. According to the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, “48% of older persons with primary major depressive disorder (MDD) also had a comorbid anxiety disorder, whereas approximately one-fourth of those with anxiety disorders also had MDD (major depressive disorder).”  

The comorbidity or combination of anxiety and depression can allow both conditions to become worse. With the other medical and cognitive conditions, physical and emotional health can take a downward spin. All these conditions, not to mention polypharmacy, can result to increased medical and physical difficulties and poorer general prognosis and outcome. Seeking professional help is a good decision. Not only are the symptoms difficult to spot. Only a qualified professional can probe for information as to the actual state of your emotional health.


The Favorable Environment for Treatment

The sunset signifies the ending of the day. For people, it can signify retirement, arriving at the senior years and the onset of a new set of challenges. The most challenging ones could be declining physical strength and growing vulnerability to a lot of medical conditions – heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, etc. All these also result in your being more prone to emotional conditions, such as anxiety.

Anxiety at any age can cause an upheaval in a person’s life. Aging, infirmities, along with the possible comorbidities, anxiety can easily weaken an older adult’s willpower to live longer or lead a satisfying life. There is no need to lose hope that you can bounce back to enjoy late life because anxiety can be treated. With the growing knowledge about geriatric anxiety, the chance of improving its outcome has grown by leaps and bounds.

Like the younger populace with anxiety, you can feel better with treatment. One element of achieving wellness and being able to live a healthy and enriching life is therapy. It is generally thought to be of extra value for seniors as they go through the challenges of the transition brought about by aging. Your therapist can help you, not only with the treatment of anxiety, but in helping to improve your outlook on life in general. If you must seek psychiatric help, seeing a therapist first can be a good, logical step, as they can help create a more favorable milieu for your treatment.


Recapturing Life and Courage with Counseling/Therapy

Welcoming aging with graciousness may not every person’s “cup of tea,” but it need not be the end of a beautiful life either. It is true that age can change your body, but it can’t touch your “spirit,” unless you allow it. There are still many things you can do and enjoy. Sure, you may not be able to hike for three weeks like Ilse Telesmanich, but you can do the slow travel at you own pace and “smell the roses,” awaken your taste buds with the interesting delicacies along the way, or share laughter with new-found friends.

In life our physical bodies will age, but you need not accept this fact without trying to live your most wonderful late life. If you are becoming fearful or a worrier, you must do something about it.  Late-life counseling can make a difference in your life. You may not be able to hike for three weeks in the remote South Africa or go exploring and survive the freezing temperatures of the North Pole, or do your job until you are past 100, but you can do something to your liking like which is what you deserve.

Improve your late life now. Start by quashing anxiety and rediscovering your latent courage. Call Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville – Fayetteville, NC. We can schedule your first appointment with the right fit independently contracted counselor/therapist, so your symptoms can be diagnosed, and the interventions planned. Call us now.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC
Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bowmore NC, Autryville NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Pineview NC, Rex NC, Lemon Springs NC, Johnsonville NC, Eastover NC, Stedman NC and Wade, NC
Zip Codes: 28311, 28395, 28390, 28356

Counseling Information

How Do I Set Up my FIRST Appointment?

  • Call: 910-636-0011 (Fastest way to schedule)
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  • Appointment scheduling for NEW clients: Mon-Fri
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Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office, Fayetteville, NC

422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
FayettevilleNC 28311

Our Mailing Address:

PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Choose your Therapist

  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare, and Cash

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Fayetteville, NC