Virtual reality and music may help treat anxiety in older people. Nearly 25 percent of older adults suffer from anxiety. The first course of treatment for anxiety in seniors is cognitive behavioral therapy, but this approach may have some limitations among aging adults. As of late, virtual reality therapy has emerged to be a promising new treatment for anxiety among older adults.
Research leader Sébastien Grenier explained the benefits of virtual reality therapy for older adults, “As people age, their ability to create mental images and their abstraction skills get weaker. For seniors, imagining intangible or abstract situations therefore becomes more and more difficult. Virtual reality exposes people to the source of their anxiety without having to physically go somewhere else or imagine their fear. This could be an additional treatment tool for therapists.”
In 2014, Dr. Grenier began conducting a pilot study to test virtual reality as an effective treatment for anxiety. There will have to be a number of pilot trials before his study can go to the clinical stages.
A literature review was conducted to determine whether music and singing may improve quality of life for older people. The findings uncovered that not only do music and singing improve quality of life, but that they do so by easing pain, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, these methods are inexpensive and involve minimal ethical, legal, or cultural concerns.
The author of the study Karen Eells concluded, “Listening to music and/or singing represent a safe, evidence-based nursing intervention, and staff should be encouraged to study and use it.’
Further research is needed to determine if musical therapy can benefit other conditions as well.
There are three main types of anxiety disorders: Generalized anxiety disorders, social phobia, and panic disorders. In generalized anxiety disorders, a person is extremely worried about many things in their life, even when there is little or no reason to be. This may include worrying about money, family, or work. These patients constantly think something will go wrong and their anxiety may prevent them from doing certain things.
Social phobia is a condition in which a person fears they will be judged or embarrassed by others. This type of anxiety may prevent a person from interacting with others or going out in public settings.
Lastly, panic disorder is a sudden, unexplained attack of terror where one may feel that their heart is pounding. During a panic attack, a person may experience fear of impending doom or fear of losing control. Panic attacks can occur at any time.
If any of these anxiety disorders sound like something you experience, speak to your doctor as there are treatments available. Living with anxiety can worsen health outcomes, especially if you are already living with a chronic disorder. Addressing your anxiety can improve your overall health.