The nature and prevalence of anxiety symptoms in community-dwelling older adults
Anxiety has received little empirical consideration among non-institutionalized older adults. As a result, the nature and prevalence of anxiety disorders in older adults are not well understood. Consistent with this, the psychometric properties of anxiety scales among older adults are largely unknown. Evidence suggests that anxiety in older individuals may be characterized by a lack of worry and predominantly somatic symptoms. It has also been suggested that anxiety symptoms in older adults are highly inter-related with symptoms of depression. This study examined the validity and reliability of three anxiety self-report scales when administered through a mail survey to community-dwelling older and younger adults. The present study also investigated the extent to which symptoms of anxiety and depression overlap, and whether anxiety presents differently in older individuals. Previous findings that anxiety is less common among older adults were not replicated in this study. Significant gender differences were found within the older age group. All scales demonstrated comparable reliability and validity between younger and older age groups. In addition, no significant age differences were found with respect to response patterns and the inter-relationship between anxiety and depression. Results are discussed within the context of previous findings, and conceptual and practical implications are presented.