You get a call. Your mom’s heart is racing. She’s experiencing chest pains. She can’t breathe. Her hands and feet feel tingly. She feels dizzy. You think heart attack and tell her to call an ambulance. The ER runs tests and doesn’t find anything.
An anxiety attack is scary. Your mom may think she’s going crazy. She’s embarrassed and nervous. She doesn’t know if she’ll have another or if that was it. She may no longer want to leave the house for fear one will hit in public. Here are things you both should know.
What is an Anxiety Attack?
An anxiety or panic attack is the body’s response to the stress it feels is there. It’s an unexplained burst of adrenaline when there is no reason for it. It can be hard to pinpoint a cause. Life changes, medical conditions, and medications can all lead to anxiety attacks, but there are times when there is no explanation.
It can trigger a faster heart rate, rapid breathing, and shift of blood flow to the heart from the extremities. Your mom may find that it’s hard to swallow and that she’s choking. Stomach acid production kicks up and can cause nausea and diarrhea. Your mom may experience detachment and that no one can see or hear her, but she can see and hear others.
What Can You Do to Help?
Most panic attacks stop in 20 to 30 minutes. A panic attack isn’t dangerous, but if they’re not treated, they may progress into panic disorder. It’s important that your mom see her doctor and ask to see a specialist in anxiety. Medications may help, though some make you feel worse before you see any improvement. Therapy to learn how to handle anxiety is most important.
Make sure your mom gets exercise every day. Time outside is ideal. A daily half-hour walk, plenty of sleep, and a diet that avoids processed foods, sugar, and caffeine can help.
Your mom may have bad days while she’s learning coping mechanisms. She may find any stressful situation can seem challenging. Her therapist will help her learn techniques like positive self-talk, deep breathing, and tensing muscles and releasing them for relaxation.
Things that can help include going outside in the cold air, activities designed to distract the brain, and a cool shower. Ask her how you can help. She may say hovering makes it worse, so you’ll need to learn when to give her space.
If your mom is alone, having someone around can ease anxiety. Hire a senior care professional to help her with household chores and provide companionship. A caregiver can join your mom on her daily walk and ease feelings of isolation that can increase anxiety. Call a senior care agency to learn more.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider senior care provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.