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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I help my aging mum who suffers from anxiety?

    My mum is of ethnic background and lost her husband over 5 years ago, she lives on her own. She suffers from tinnitus and everyday complains about her ears, I don't think she can cope on her own because she always asks if I'll be home just in case she needs help.

    She wants me to be there in case she needs an ambulance, she panics because she feels her ears become too much. I suffer from anxiety as well and her neediness is putting a strain on me, what can I do to help her realise she needs help other than from her children?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • I am a registered psychologist with many years of counselling experience in the field of relationships and fertility issues. In particular my focus is on … View Profile

    your first priority would be to get your mom checked by an acredited geriatician who will decide if she requires further referral or whether he can mange her condition. Tinnitus is often connected with anxiety because it is a debilitating and frightening condition. However the anxiety could be a seperate issue which might benefit from a health review and if necessary appropriate medication.
    You can help your mom by remaining calm and reassuring. Purchase a relaxation and meditation CD such as letting go of anxiety by Sarah Edelstein and practice the breathing and relaxation techniques to gether.
    Your mother might benefit from sessions of counselling with a CBT base.
    Perhaps there is a community centre she could join which would help her focus on things outside the home.

  • Muriel Cooper

    Psychologist

    I specialise in stress, anxiety and depression as well as general psychology. I have been a counsellor and psychologist for nearly 20 years and firmly … View Profile

    How old is your mum?  If she is not over 80 years of age she can be treated as an adult.  She needs help to overcome her anxiety.  Check with the Australian Psychological Association to see if there is a psychologist in your area that can treat your mum for anxiety in the language she is most comfortable speaking.  She may need help in recovering from her loss as well. 

    Are you seeing someone for your own anxiety?  It important that you look after yourself .  Both you and your mum need to keep your stress to a minimum.  As previously suggested, meditation/relaxatiuon recordings can be useful, so why not make an excercise of listening to them together. 

    I have treated people who have tinnitus plus anxiety and find good results can be obtained from reducing stress and worry about the actual tinnitus itself, even to the point of accepting it is there and not paying attention to it.  The greater worry the greater stress the worse it gets, and so on, round and round.

    Are you a member or a church or other social group with your cultural background?  They can often be helpful in providing assistance and socialisation. If you mum can develop some confidence and have more enjoyment it may help to improve her mood and make her less dependant on you.

    I think it's wonderful that you care so much for your mum and I wish you both all the best.

  • I am a registered psychologist with many years of counselling experience in the field of relationships and fertility issues. In particular my focus is on … View Profile

    it is important to realise some of the concerns facing ageing people. They are looking at the last years of their life and staring their mortality in the face.
    The best thing that can happen for them is that they still feel useful and have a purpose.
    Try and engage with your mom on a topic that makes her feel empowered and ask her advice on simple issues like cooking or child care issues that wont elevate her anxiety.
    Try and talk to her about a part time carer to take her shopping or to the movies.
    If she plays cards make social arrangements for her or if she reads or knits help her with these activities.
    There is the COA which has various talks and activities and outings for seniors as well as the Holdsworth centre.
    ACAT will assess her and she is entitled to 60 days a year in a retirement place where she can be for a week at a time just for a break.
    Well done for caring so much! If possible ask your mom what she would want and work out a compromise. you cannot be solely responsible for her as this will affect your quality of life and might cause you to be resentful.
    You dont say if you have siblings if you do a family meeting should be held and everyone designated a role in her care.
    Mixing with other people her age and ethnicity will help her anxiety.
    Encourage her to do some physical activity every day. see she eats a nutritious meals. A cd with mindfulness exercises or meditation can be very helpful.

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