Elderly at greater risk of anxiety disorder

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 July, 2012, 12:00am


Retirees in their 70s are four times more likely to suffer from anxiety disorder than people under 50, according to a survey, a figure twice as high as those reported in similar surveys overseas.

The study by the Chinese Rhenish Church Hong Kong Synod involved more than 500 residents at its retirement homes and found 16 per cent were suffering from general anxiety disorder.

This stemmed from concerns of personal well-being, followed by financial issues and daily living.

The synod called on the government to step up support for retirees with financial aid, better health services and bigger tax breaks for those who looked after their elderly parents.

'Nervousness does not usually seem to be a serious matter, but overly worrying about many issues and activities can be a serious matter', said Mak Ki-yan, professor of psychiatry at the University of Hong Kong, who was involved with the survey.

'Some patients are tormented by symptoms, which affect their daily living and social relationships. In severe cases, it can lead to depression or substance abuse, such as alcoholism.'

The patient's longevity and overall wellness could also be affected.

According to similar surveys conducted overseas, people in their 70s are only twice as likely to suffer from anxiety disorder than those below 50.

'The situation has probably deteriorated due to the tension and pressured environment of life in Hong Kong,' Mak said. 'The government should also do more to provide a better health-care system and more financial support for the elderly to address their concerns.'

A general anxiety disorder means a person is overly worried and anxious - a condition that could last at least six months.

Mak said symptoms, including insomnia and aches and pains, were often overlooked by patients, leading to delayed treatment or the sufferers not seeking any assistance at all.

Mood management, such as learning how to relax, and making better use of time are proposed to maintain mental health.


According to the survey, about this proportion of Hongkongers under the age of 50 suffer from general anxiety disorder