When night falls and the time for sleep arrives, anxiety can appear in all of us for various reasons. In elderly people, the late hours of night when they need to sleep can cause both confusion and anxiety. For the family caregiver, it is essential to understand why this is happening. Because of that, we are going to talk about confusion and anxiety in older adults at night.
Confusion and Anxiety in Older Adults at Night
Many seniors have different medical conditions that also affect their physical well-being. Because of that, sometimes it’s hard to know when they have mental issues such as anxiety. One of the problems with elderly adults is that they don’t want to admit that they have a mental issue. For many of them, this would be a sign of weakness, and they regard it as something that needs to be kept to themselves.
As a caregiver, you will need to pay special attention in order to notice the symptoms of confusion and anxiety. Possible signals that your seniors might have one of the conditions mentioned above include:
- When your senior is concerned about minor issues more than they should.
- The inability of an older adult to simply let some things go, and hearing them complain about the same things over and over again.
- When they lack sleep because they are preoccupied with thoughts.
Sometimes you might notice the combination of confusion and anxiety in older adults at night. When this happens, they will not know where they are, what is happening, or they might even fail to recognize you. This situation can be equally distressing for both you and your senior.
When older adults feel confusion in late night hours, it is often called sundowning. This state is not considered to be a disease, but it’s a condition that affects many seniors that have dementia. If your loved one has this condition, you will notice that they start feeling confused in the late afternoon hours and that it stays with them until late into the night.
The feeling of confusion is often followed by anxiety and even aggressive behavior. Doctors believe that this happens because of low lighting, tiredness, and an increased number of shadows. For those that are affected by both dementia and sundowning, it sometimes becomes difficult to tell the difference between dreams and reality.
Ways to Reduce Anxiety in Older Adults at Night
Luckily there are ways you can ease confusion and anxiety in older adults at night. The first thing you need to do is to have a routine installed for your elderly in late evening and night. This routine includes that the times when they wake up and when they go to bed are set at the same time every day. The same goes for their meals.
Physical activity during the day is another thing that can set them up for sleep later in the night. What needs to be discouraged is them taking naps during the day. This can provoke lack of sleep during the night which can lead to confusion and anxiety. The last thing is to limit their daily intake of caffeine and sugar. Both items should be consumed only in early hours of the day.
Here we have a few extra tips that can be useful for both you and your elderly loved one:
- Use nightlights so that your senior can see things around them better.
- Make sure that you don’t disturb your loved one with background noise.
- If they are sleeping in a new room, make sure that you surround them with familiar items such as pictures of friends and family.
- Play relaxing music during the evening hours and when they fall asleep.
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