Anxiety is common among older adults receiving care from aging services agencies

Research Activities, September 2011, No. 373

Anxiety is common in the elderly, affecting an estimated 1 in 10 older adults. If left untreated, it can turn into depression, cause significant disability, and boost health care costs. More than 10 million older adults receive services from approximately 30,000 local and State aging services agencies. More than a quarter of this group had significant levels of anxiety, according to a new study.

Researchers conducted interviews with 378 adults aged 60 and over who were receiving services from an aging services center in the Rochester, NY area. Participants in the study were asked questions from validated survey instruments to determine their present state of well-being and social situation. Areas covered included anxiety levels, other mental disorders, social support, physical health and disability, and if the individuals had experienced stressful life events recently.

Of 377 participants with complete data, 27.3 percent had significant symptoms of anxiety. Those with anxiety were more often younger and had lower incomes compared with non-anxious participants. There was a significant correlation between anxiety and depression, with more than half (54 percent) of those suffering from anxiety also having depression. Factors also associated with anxiety included higher levels of pain, having five or more medical conditions, and experiencing recent stressful life events. The study's findings support greater interventions to identify anxiety in this service population and to link aging services with primary care and behavioral health providers. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS00044).

See "Anxiety and its correlates among older adults accessing aging services," by Thomas M. Richardson, Ph.D., Adam Simning, B.S., Hua He, Ph.D., and Yeates Conwell, M.D., in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 26, pp. 31-38, 2011.

Current as of September 2011
Internet Citation: Anxiety is common among older adults receiving care from aging services agencies: Research Activities, September 2011, No. 373. September 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.