Question: Do older adults need to take special precautions when taking medications for an anxiety disorder?
Answer: Anxiety disorders are relatively common in elderly individuals. They may continue to have anxiety since when they were younger, which has continued through their lifetime into their elderly time period, and require ongoing treatment. They may develop new anxiety as a result of developing depression or in reaction to losses or stresses in their life associated with getting older. So they, too, may require treatment for their anxiety.
As a general rule, elderly individuals tend to be more sensitive to side effects of medication than their younger counterparts. Therefore, when initiating treatment in elderly individuals, we tend to start with lower than usual doses of the medication and go up more slowly in terms of bringing them up to full doses to allow them to acclimate to the medication, and to minimize any side effects -- like sedation -- that they might experience.