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Good nutrition should begin before pregnancy

January 10, 2010
By DR. ANGELA DOTY, Salem Community Hospital

Carla noticed her mother was worrying the hem of her shirt. Mom had never done that. Was it the Alzheimer's? Or anxiety? Or age? The questions puzzled her.

There had been a lot of changes over the course of the past year. When her father died it became necessary for her mother to move to a nursing home where she would be monitored and safe. She just hadn't thought to consider that Mom, with her Alzheimered mind, might have anxiety! Especially if she couldn't remember a minute ago.

"Of the mental health problems experienced in later life, anxiety is one of the most frequent," according to "Anxiety in the Elderly," an article appearing in Paradigm Magazine, Fall 2009. "Increased anxiety is more frequent in homebound elders and nursing home residents, as well as older adults with chronic medical conditions, than in older adults."

Causes of persistent

anxiety in older adults:

- Poor medical results (heart disease, memory impairment, loss of independence, more need of health care.

Fact Box

Where Does the Weight Go?

In most women, 25-35 pounds is a good amount of weight to gain during pregnancy. An average woman gains weight in different parts of her body during pregnancy as follows:

Your baby7.5 pounds

Your breast growth2 pounds

Maternal stores of protein and fat 7 pounds

Placenta1.5 pounds

Your uterus growth2 pounds

Amniotic fluid2 pounds

Your blood4 pounds

Your body fluids4 pounds

(Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists-ACOG)

- Decreased quality of life.

- Reduced life satisfaction.

Phobias, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), panic disorder, the article's authors advise, appear in the elderly but most common is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). But GAD is not easy to diagnose. More attention is being given to the elderly anxiety issue. It is a complicated issue.

"GADconsist[s] of persistent worry and many physical symptoms of anxiety," like having trouble concentrating, sleep problems and tense muscles. "Onset of GAD also can occurafter a major life changeretirement, death of a spouse, or diagnosis of a medical condition."

Older adults worry about health, safety of their loved ones, aging and becoming burdens to their families. But how do you find out if an elderly loved one, perhaps with dementia, is suffering anxiety? "Repeating concerns and fidgeting" are mentioned.

Carla's mother worried the hem of her shirt. She constantly talked about not staying at the nursing home because she could take better care of herself at home, even though Carla was certain that was not the case. But all of that could simply be related to the Alzheimer's, couldn't it? She tried to correlate her mother's thinking and behaviors before Alzheimer's and since to gauge what was happening to her mother and to assure that her mother was getting the care, concern and love she needed.

Which came first, anxiety or depression? She'd been concerned about her mother's depression for a while, but she wasn't a professional. She wasn't sure how to help her mother.

Most elderly don't want to take more prescription medications. There is a therapy, cognitive-behavior, that works well with young people, and now is under consideration for the elderly. It includes learning how to relax, problem solving, among other tools.

"GAD is the most common pervasive anxiety disorder among older adults" the Paradigm article concludes, "Effectively treating anxiety would improve quality of life of patients, decrease health care utilization and even prevent diseases."

In another article, "New Thinking on Anxiety and Aging: Anxiety Disorders Common in the Elderly," Stephanie Sampson, M.A., states, "Until recently anxiety disorders were believed to decline with age." In actuality, it is often those who had anxiety disorders when they were young who have issues when the become elderly.

Could Carla's mother's recent illness have any connection to anxiety, to GAD? She would ask the doctor about it, maybe give him copies of the information she found on the Internet. She had to help her mother.

Depression and anxiety are not a normal part of aging. They are conditions that need to be addressed to improve the quality of life.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities. For more information about this topic contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC is funded in part by the Columbiana County Mental Health Services and Recovery Board.



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