The security situation in the south of Israel creates a state of anxiety for the people living in Isreal. For elderly people it is especially traumatic. Hamas has now managed to fire rockets from the Gaza Strip further than it ever has before. Rockets fired from Gaza have reached some 150km from the Gaza Strip with Netanya sitting 100KM from Gaza.
Dr. Vered Hermush, Director of the Geriatric Department at Laniado Hospital, explains how to recognize symptoms of anxiety among the elderly and how to treat them. The security situation in the south today naturally creates various levels of fear and anxiety in the general population - and how much more so among the elderly. Therefore, it is important to be aware that anxiety in the elderly does not necessarily indicate emotional illness that requires psychological or psychiatric treatment. Anxiety is relatively common among older people and therefore there is no need to "be afraid of the fear." In times of crisis and difficulty, like the current situation in the south, maintaining a lifestyle that includes anti-anxiety behaviors is highly recommended. These include exercise, listening to music, breathing exercises and, of course, calls of encouragement and support by family and friends. In addition, non-drug therapies such as art therapy, movement relaxation and animal therapy are also recommended.
As Director of the Geriatric Department, I can state with certainty that maintaining this kind of lifestyle makes it possible to deal with anxiety to a degree that enables a normal routine – depending, of course, on the objective situation, which is far from simple. However, sometimes the ability to cope with a difficult security situation is limited and the anxiety indeed succeeds in paralyzing him or her and interfering with daily functioning. Such cases require intervention by a medical or a therapy professional. The most prominent symptoms of anxiety that requires treatment are:
Difficulty performing simple daily tasks
Lack of interest in activities that the individual usually enjoys
It is important to know that often anxiety symptoms among the elderly accompany or stem from various physiological diseases. The initial process of diagnosis must include the elimination of external factors that may produce anxiety. If a relative or neighbor is suffering from breathing problems, heart problems, or glandular imbalance, make sure that s/he gets the proper medication. There is a good chance that this will solve the problem of anxiety.