Supporting older people experiencing anxiety through non-pharmacological interventions
Intended for healthcare professionals

Supporting older people experiencing anxiety through non-pharmacological interventions

Christine Brown Wilson Professor nursing (education), School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Why you should read this article:
  • To enhance your knowledge of the possible causes of anxiety in older people

  • To familiarise yourself with non-pharmacological interventions that can be used to alleviate anxiety in older people

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

Anxiety is a debilitating condition that adversely affects people’s quality of life. It is challenging to differentiate anxiety from other physical and mental health conditions in older people, particularly those with co-morbid dementia or depression. The coronavirus 2019 pandemic has compounded social isolation and loneliness in older people, causing increased levels of anxiety. Nurses need to be able to detect and assess anxiety in older people and offer short, low-intensity interventions to support older people’s mental health or refer them to specialist assessment and treatment. While research on anxiety in older people is lacking, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness, yoga, music therapy and pleasant activities have shown potential as non-pharmacological interventions for alleviating anxiety in older people. This article explores the role of nurses in identifying when an older person may be experiencing anxiety and then choosing the optimal non-pharmacological intervention to support them.

Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2021.e1331

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Brown Wilson C (2021) Supporting older people experiencing anxiety through non-pharmacological interventions. Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2021.e1331

Published online: 03 November 2021

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