Anxiety in the Elderly at Night: How To Help - Peregrine

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May 2, 2023  -  Memory Care

Anxiety in the Elderly at Night: How To Help

Nighttime anxiety can be a challenging obstacle for older adults living independently that often coincide with other common age-related difficulties. 

A new diet, proper sleep hygiene, or professional care can be great options for alleviating nighttime stress and anxiety. Several factors could make you or your loved one anxious, but we can recommend strategies to create a more comfortable evening experience, and a lower-stress environment. 

What Causes Anxiety at Night? 

Nighttime anxiety can be rooted in many causes, from boredom to unmet needs. Many older adults experience nighttime anxiety or sundowning, a state of confusion typically occurring in the late afternoon or evening. Some causes of sundowning include the following: 

  • Fatigue
  • Unmet needs like thirst or hunger 
  • Depression
  • Discomfort
  • Boredom 

If your loved one feels overly tired and anxious in the evenings, consider booking an appointment with your doctor to speak about sundowning and possible stress relief solutions.

Tips For Reducing Nighttime Anxiety

Reducing nighttime anxiety in older adults can be complicated, but here are some tips that can help you or your loved one to get a good night’s rest. 

A Diet to Reduce Anxiety 

The food and beverages you consume directly impact your health and, in many cases, your mood. If you or your loved one are agitated, it could be a sign that you need something to eat or drink. 

 Here are some diet tips to help cope with anxiety:

  • Avoid alcohol or tobacco 
  • Stay hydrated and drink lots of water 
  • Limit or avoid caffeine, particularly around bedtime
  • Eat balanced meals 
  • Eat complex carbs 

Remember that it’s important to speak with your doctor before making significant changes to your diet. 

Exercising Regularly  

Exercising has been shown to reduce anxiety significantly and can leave you feeling more relaxed throughout the day. Regular exercise can decrease muscle tension, increase your heart rate, and release serotonin. We recommend getting 30 minutes of exercise daily to stay healthy and help improve your mood. 

Healthy Sleep Habits 

Some other healthy sleep habits that may be beneficial in reducing anxiety include:

  • Invest in comfortable bedding and mattresses
  • Avoid using technology close to bedtime 
  • Remove electronics from the bedroom
  • Try calming music in the background 
  • Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature 
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, or alcohol before bedtime 

Stick to a Schedule

Creating a consistent routine that balances these healthy habits before bedtime can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. We recommend choosing a bedtime that suits you or your loved one’s needs and maintaining consistency to help your body adjust. 


If you or your loved one are experiencing high anxiety at nighttime, which is not being improved with some of the tips mentioned above, your doctor may recommend prescription medications. There are different kinds of medications available that can help relieve anxiety in older adults. 


Therapy can be highly effective in treating anxiety among older adults. Many older adults might feel more comfortable speaking with a professional about mental health concerns they might be having.

A senior woman in a senior living community sitting on a chair smiling and laughing with a young female nurse.

Can Senior Living Communities Help?

Senior living communities can benefit older adults facing anxiety in the evening. A senior living community can provide you or your loved one with access to full-time care, meal prepping, and help take care of other daily tasks that need to be done. 

Here are some benefits of senior community living: 

Fewer Chores

Senior living communities can help reduce the stress and anxiety of completing household chores. Independent-living communities may offer services that help with basic tasks like cleaning toilets, clearing the gutters, or even making meals. If you or your loved one wants to have a maintenance-free lifestyle and spend more time enjoying retirement, consider becoming a part of a senior living community.


Loneliness can cause heightened anxiety and stress, which could result in a lack of sleep. A senior living community provides a space to meet new people, try new activities, and be supported by friendly staff.  


Socialization had been shown to be one of the most effective ways of reducing cognitive issues in older adults. It can improve moods, memory recall, and other health benefits.

Safety & Security 

Falling is a risk for some older adults, and having access to full-time care can be a major stress reliever. Many senior living community staff members are trained in first aid and taught how to help in a potentially hazardous situation. You may feel more comfortable knowing that you or your loved one has access to assistance if needed. 

Compassionate Care 

If you or a loved one is dealing with severe nighttime anxiety, it could be time to consider a senior living community. At Peregrine Senior Living, our friendly staff is happy to speak with you about the services we offer. 

Contact us today to learn more about our loving communities.

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