Vers un meilleur traitement de l'anxiété chez les personnes âgées

 

Sébastien Grenier

Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal

 

Domaine : vieillissement

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 1

Concours 2014-2015

Despite the advancement of science, older adults with anxiety are still not treated appropriately. This has serious implications for the health and quality of life of 225,000 Quebec seniors affected by this disease. Indeed, they are more likely to become depressed or develop memory problems. Several older adults with anxiety will then lose their autonomy and will be forced to leave their homes for a care setting. It is therefore essential to find a suitable treatment to relieve their anxiety. In this regard, other solutions must be found than tranquilizers, since health risks associated with this type of medication (older adults can become addicted) far outweigh the benefits. A safer solution would be to use a therapy that might help seniors suffering from anxiety to better manage their thoughts (e.g. say to oneself that anxiety is the end of the world) and behaviors (e.g. avoid frightening situations) causing anxiety.

This form of therapy, called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), is however rarely used with older adults suffering from anxiety and further studies are needed to validate it. This is especially what I will do in my research projects. In particular, I will use an innovative therapy to help seniors to stop consuming tranquilizers, a risky drug for their health. In addition, I will help older adults who are afraid of falling, a manifestation of anxiety highly prevalent in this age group, to overcome their fear by using a therapy that I have designed. Overall, my studies will identify innovative interventions that effectively relieve anxiety in older adults without aggravating their health. My research will thus improve short-term health and quality of life of older people with anxiety, and thereby extend their stay at home; a desire expressed by the majority of seniors.