It’s not uncommon for elderly relatives to experience anxiety as they face many of life’s challenges, from illness and injury to losing loved ones. They may feel stressed or anxious when visiting the doctor or working with a home care assistant. Family caregivers also may notice an increase in anxiety when their aging relatives develop dementia.
Doctors may prescribe medication for anxiety in seniors that can help, but there are several methods to help manage anxiety. The use of a weighted blanket can help relieve the physical symptoms of anxiety and help the body and mind achieve a more calm state.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are blankets that have pockets of evenly distributed weight from a filling like dry rice, poly beads, dry beans, sand and even buckwheat. The weight of the blanket presses down on the elderly person’s body, providing warmth and gentle pressure. Many people liken it to the feeling of being held or hugged. Weighted blankets can be purchased commercially, or crafty people can make their own blankets with just a few materials and a sewing machine. The blankets are growing in popularity and have therapeutic value to people of all ages with a range of sensory issues.
How Weighted Blankets Help Anxiety
When an elderly person is experiencing anxiety, their body is operating in a high-stress mode. Anxiety triggers feelings of fear, restlessness, worry, and paranoia. The most effective treatment for anxiety is a combination of therapy, medication and lifestyle changes. Weighted blankets can help change the anxious person’s environment in positive ways. The best part is that family members, home care assistants and the seniors themselves can use the blankets whenever they need them.
So how exactly do weighted blankets help anxiety?
The way it works is that the pressure from a weighted blanket imitates deep pressure touching, such as the feelings people get from massages, being held or hugs. When the body relaxes, the feelings of anxiety are also reduced. Weighted blankets really do have a soothing effect on people and more caregivers are finding that their elderly relatives respond positively to them.
Studies show that when people hug, their bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that helps them relax. It can also lower blood pressure and slow down the heart rate. Pressure on certain areas of the body also releases serotonin, which helps reduce stress. Interestingly, serotonin is also linked with melatonin production, a chemical that triggers sleep. Weighted blankets also provide a comfortable feeling of safety and warmth that encourages sleep.
Tips on Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets are growing more popular, but there are a few things family caregivers need to keep in mind as they look more closely for ways to combat anxiety in their elderly relatives. The weight of a weighted blanket varies, and the rule of thumb is that it should be around 5 percent of the person’s body weight. For example, a 160-pound senior would use a blanket that weights between 7 and 9 lbs. Family caregivers should check with a doctor before getting a weighted blanket because they can be quite warm and may affect elderly people with circulation issues or temperature regulation issues.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care services in Indian Hill, OH, please contact the caring staff at Queen City Elder Care today. Serving Cincinnati and Surrounding Communities. Call Us Today (513) 510-4410.
Michele Vollmer is a visionary leader who is perpetually searching for ways to improve, so to remain at the leading edge of the home care industry.She has served in the healthcare industry since 1989, including pharmaceutical and home health sales, as well as hospice sales and sales management.
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