Anxiety For Seniors

My step-daughter, Andrea, is a Geriatric Psychiatrist, widely respected in her field and much loved by her step-mother. But can you imagine how stressful this is for her older family members? Every time she visits us, we imagine she is doing some sort of dementia test as we play games or cook dinner. Forget which suit is trump? Oops. Leave the salad in the fridge until after dessert? Help! Knock over a chair while standing up? That’s it for sure. We’re demented.

So when she asked me recently to be part of a new project she is co-leading, I was a little anxious. She and her team had been awarded 2.5 million dollars by the federal government to study anxiety in seniors and come up with guidelines for support. And this sounds to me like money well-spent.

I know a lot of us have anxious feelings as we get older. Our bodies are falling apart before our eyes, the ones without cataracts, that is. Every morning when we wake up, our first task is to test things. Legs? Working. Shoulders? Not too stiff. Hands? A little joint pain. Then we move on to our minds: can we figure out the jumble and sudoku puzzles? Can we remember our phone number? Then we read the newspaper, (the one delivered to our door because the online one is hard to navigate), and there we discover that the world is falling apart too: Putin is destroying world peace, the climate is burning up, Covid germs are still around. No wonder anxiety is flourishing among us.

So when Andrea told me they needed an Older Adult to be part of the launch presentation, thanking the Federal Minister For Seniors, Kamal Khera, for the grant, I really wanted to be part of it. I said yes without thinking through the implications. Later that day the anxiety began to set in. What would I say? How would I get to the venue? What would I WEAR?

First I began to write my speech – with a time limit of 3 minutes. After I finished writing the first section and read it out loud to myself, it was over 6 minutes and I hadn’t even started on the main point! After a lot of chopping, and then editing by Andrea, we were down to a reasonable length and I moved on to my outfit. Definitely not my new leggings – too sporty. Not my interview suit – too old. I finally settled on pants that weren’t too tight, and a red jacket that helped subdue the grey in my complexion.

Next, how to get to the venue: car or subway? After hearing the weather report – a massive snow storm arriving the evening before – I chose a subway route that I was familiar with: 50 minutes according to the TTC trip planner. Add in an additional half hour for delays, and I was so confident I slept quite well that night.

Well I shouldn’t have. After dressing and reviewing my notes, I boarded the subway. A few minutes later – dead stop! And the driver’s voice: “We have a switching problem. Shuttle buses will be running.” There were collective gasps and moans from the riders as everyone rushed towards the exits. I hastily considered my options and started running towards the station beyond the trouble. But a lot of other commuters were doing the same, navigating the piles of slush and snow, and it was very slow going.

I imagined myself arriving late to the presentation, my hair snowy, my notes soggy, my pants mud-spattered – a total old-person look that I did not want to have in front of an audience. Quite anxious by this time, I called Andrea who sent UBER to the rescue.

Are you waiting anxiously for the ending to this story? I made it on time, Minister Khera noticed my red jacket, and my little speech was well-received. My subway ride home was peaceful, and my anxiety was gone. But I am looking forward to the results of the Anxiety Project and how it can help all of us oldies who suffer from anxiety, in small ways and big, nearly every day.


9 thoughts on “Anxiety For Seniors

  1. I’m sorry I couldn’t hear the speech but you looked fantastic!  Anyway, I know you so I know it was brilliant.   Well done, Sueeee!  


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  2. Sue
    Nightmarish elements, for sure. But a great outcome. I am certain your 3 minutes were just perfecto.
    I too have met Minister Kamal Khera. An impressive person. Seems to be taking seniors’ issues seriously.



  3. Good outfit choice!! You look great . I’m glad that your speech went well although as long as you look good you’re more than halfway there.


  4. Well done Sueee. This is a very important topic. How great that you have a family member heading it up!


  5. Amazing work you do Sue! Congratulations. Love to hear the results. Anxiety is such a concern for all ages today. Glad they are spending time on the seniors.


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