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Understanding the Experiences of Anxiety in Community Dwelling Older Adults—Understanding Anxiety in Older Adults

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DOI: 10.4236/ojn.2017.711087    441 Downloads   808 Views Citations

ABSTRACT

Objectives: Anxiety is commonly reported as being experienced by older adult patients. However most of the theories on anxiety in older adults are developed from clinical measures rather than open-ended questionnaires. Consequently, little is known about the day to day experiences of anxiety in the lives of older adults, and the functional impairment that may result. Method: Community dwelling older adults (n = 135) were administered an open-ended questionnaire eliciting their experiences of anxiety using a cognitive behavioural framework. Directed content analysis was applied to discover the shared experiences of anxiety in older adults. Results: Although 64% of older adults reported avoidance behaviour that appeared anxiety driven, they generally denied experiencing anxiety themselves. Thought content and processes were idiosyncratic however commonalities were thinking positively (34%), problem solving (31%), rumination (31%) and difficulty concentrating (19%). A broad range of physical symptoms including those that may relate to medical conditions and depression were reported as resulting from anxiety, most commonly headaches (26%) and gastrointestinal disturbances (26%). Conclusion: Anxiety driven behaviours were common and appeared to negatively impact their quality of life through avoidance behaviours. Older adults may benefit from education to destigmatise the experiences of anxiety and improve reporting of functional impairment due to anxiety.

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H. Roberts, M. , Merrick, P. , Fletcher, R. and Furness, K. (2017) Understanding the Experiences of Anxiety in Community Dwelling Older Adults—Understanding Anxiety in Older Adults. Open Journal of Nursing, 7, 1197-1208. doi: 10.4236/ojn.2017.711087.

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