Separation anxiety is something many seniors and their families have to contend with. Older adults often thrive on routine, and much of that routine revolves around having the same familiar supports. If circumstances change, or a senior simply cannot see a support person as often as he or she would like, separation anxiety can set in.
As a caregiver you have to remember that your senior loved one has likely been moved out of their familiar surroundings and familiar people, so they may be feeling isolated already. They also lose friends at a higher rate than other people, given their advanced age, contributing to feelings of loneliness.
The main symptom of separation anxiety is a fear of being away from the person or people to whom a senior is ‘attached,’ which can show up in various ways. A senior loved one may cry, feel panic, or feel physical pain like stomach aches or a headache when away from loved ones. Your senior family member may not want to share these symptoms, as he or she could fear worrying you, so you need to keep an eye out in other ways. Ensure other caregivers are checking in on your family and noting any issues like bouts of crying, or complaints of pain.
Talk to your senior loved one’s medical team and other caregivers, if you suspect he or she is dealing with separation anxiety. This struggle can be a huge challenge for seniors, so it is important to offer as much help and support as possible, through every member of your loved one’s care team. Reassure your loved one that you will always be there when needed, and be sure to stick with your routine visits as much as you can.