As the weather begins to shift from fall to winter in the coming months, it’s important for caretakers to understand how these seasonal changes can affect people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Let us help you prepare.
Natural Light and Sundowners
As the seasons change it becomes colder and there is less natural daylight. During the winter season many people with dementia and Alzheimer’s experience increased confusion. This often occurs because of the limited natural light. It’s a good idea to try and turn lights on earlier, open the curtains and blinds during daylight hours and possibly even consider using light therapy to help reduce some of the symptoms of sundowners.
Staying active and sticking to a regular routine are important for people dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s, but this can be difficult when cold weather hits. If it’s not too cold or icy, it’s still a good idea to try and get your loved one outside to walk around the block or even just the back yard. Even small amounts of activity can help boost your loved one’s mood and help them fight off boredom and agitation.
Staying active during the winter is not easy for people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s, as they can often be unsteady on their feet. As a caretaker, you should scout the area for any ice and always keep some ice melt handy (though you will want to keep this secure as the chemicals in ice melt can be dangerous if ingested). In addition, making sure your loved one has non-slip footwear can also help them feel more secure. This is also a great time to apply for that state-issued handicapped sticker or license plate if you have been putting that off, as finding a close spot can save your loved one the trouble of moving through an icy parking lot.
Staying Warm, But Not Too Warm
It may seem obvious to us to put on a sweater when we are cold or to turn down the electric blanket when we feel hot, but this doesn’t always seem as obvious to our loved ones with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Since it can be difficult for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s to be aware of and regulate their own temperature it is important to make sure your loved one is wearing the appropriate clothing when leaving the house. One trick to help your loved one regulate his or her temperature is to dress him or her in a number of lightweight layers that can be removed or added for comfort.
While an electric blanket might seem like an easy way to keep warm, it can be dangerous for our loved ones with dementia and Alzheimer’s because they may be unaware that the electric blanket has become too hot. This can lead to burns on the skin or simple discomfort and confusion. s
Winter can be a trying time for those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s, but with a little preparation and planning, winter doesn’t have to be so scary for our loved ones. We’d love to hear from you. If you have any other tips for caretakers or would like to get in touch with us, you can send us a message here.