Detection and Assessment of Late-Life Anxiety
Anxiety symptoms and disorders are both common and disabling among older adults. A variety of factors regularly confound the detection and treatment of late-life anxiety, including the failure to recognize subthreshold anxiety disorders as clinically significant; the ways in which older adults describe their anxiety experiences; the tendency of older adults to focus on somatic symptoms and complaints; and concurrent problems that may cause or contribute to anxiety symptoms, particularly depression, dementia, physical health problems, and late-life psychosocial changes. A number of negative outcomes are regularly associated with anxiety symptoms in older adults and underscore the importance of accurate assessment, referral, and treatment. Detection and assessment are essential to accurately identifying and treating clinically significant anxiety and to simultaneously address factors that cause or contribute to anxiety-related symptoms, distress, and discomfort, and functional limitations.
The purpose of this evidence-based guideline is to improve the detection and assessment of anxiety symptoms among older adults. The simplicity of the guideline and associated assessment methods make the guideline appropriate for use by all levels of health care practitioners, including advanced practice and generalists nurses, as well as nursing assistants; physicians, physician assistants and medical assistants; social workers; and occupational, recreational, activity and physical therapists and their assistants. Likewise, this guideline is appropriate for use in diverse settings where older adults receive health-related services, including their home, adult day health services, community-based programs, residential and assisted living centers, nursing homes and other long-term care settings, and out-patient and acute care services. Written 2008; Revised 2018.
Toolkit Included in Guideline: