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Getting Old Without Getting Anxious    by Peter V. Rabins & Lynn Lauber order for
Getting Old Without Getting Anxious
by Peter V. Rabins
Order:  USA  Can
Avery, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

What a wealth of helpful information is packed into the 266 pages of this book! The catchy title is an understatement for a manual of anxiety disorders directed to seniors, their loved ones, and caregivers of seniors. There are excellent descriptions of all of the anxiety disorders, providing an education in psychological terms that many people seem to know all about, but few actually understand.

The book is easy to read from start to finish, with introductory material in Part One relating to why many of the listed disorders become worse in old age. Many examples are given which clearly illustrate the problems when a form of anxiety that a person was formerly able to control flares up and takes over.

Part Two is organized into chapters by disorder title, including depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and phobia disorder. Each chapter explains the disorder, with an emphasis on why it can be different for the elderly and what sorts of life changes can cause a worsening of symptoms. There can be cross-over, with a person suffering from more than one anxiety, and physical symptoms that don't seem to have a cause after medical testing are frequently a clue to the problems of the elderly. Many old people are reluctant to admit to an emotional problem because of the attitudes toward being crazy that they learned while young, but they will go to the doctor with vague and troubling physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat or dizziness. Each chapter also discusses the best treatments for that particular disorder.

Part Three deals with treatments and medicines in general. Many of these have already been mentioned, but here they are grouped together so that the reader can refer back to a particular medicine to get detailed information about it. Many medicines are more potent for the elderly than they are in younger people, and proper dosages are discussed as well as common side effects that usually go away after a week or two.

The organization of this book is one of its strengths. Reading it straight through will give a general picture of what might be wrong and all the different ways of helping. Then going back to a particular chapter that seems more relevant and reviewing it will help the reader to decide which of the recommended treatments would be a good starting point. There are many books and resources listed at the end of the book that help direct the reader to the desired treatment.

For the past ten years, I have been attempting to help my elderly parents as they gradually lost their ability to take care of themselves. I found the resources I needed with great difficulty at times, talking to friends, social workers, doctors, relatives, ministers, and just about anyone who would listen. I wish I had had this book, as well. My father developed Alzheimer's disease, which greatly increased my mother's anxiety. Just understanding some of these conditions would have given me more self-confidence that I was truly being helpful. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is trying to help an elderly relative who is having trouble coping with the problems of daily life.

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