Preparing for Winter Weather and Dementia

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Preparing for winter weather as a dementia care partner

When fall is winding down, make sure you’re prepared for winter weather as a dementia care partner. 

Preparations and actions are essential when anticipating cold or adverse weather conditions. While many are aware of these measures, individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia may not fully comprehend them.

Various strategies can be employed to ready oneself for colder temperatures, such as adjusting heating settings, wearing additional layers of clothing, and having extra blankets. However, these may not be instinctively considered by those with memory challenges.

Instances of individuals using unconventional heating sources, like space heaters, ovens, or stovetops, abound, often with unfavorable outcomes. The senior population, especially those with memory loss, may face mobility limitations and increased susceptibility to the cold due to circulatory issues. It’s unwise to assume that someone with dementia knows how to prepare. Regular check-ins, even by phone, are crucial for those living alone.

To address lower temperatures, consider the following tips:

Clothing: Opt for easy-to-wear layers, strategically placing items like sweaters and blankets in visible locations.

Winter Items: Essential accessories like hats, scarves, gloves, boots, and a warm winter coat are crucial for necessary outings.

Central Heating: Maintain a warm indoor environment, recognizing that seniors may feel the cold more intensely due to diminished circulation.

Gas: If using gas heating, ensure the presence of a functioning carbon monoxide alarm along with a reliable fire detector.

Electric Heaters: Regularly check these devices, avoiding placing items on top of them, and be mindful of tripping hazards, especially for those with mobility challenges or poor eyesight.

Automatic Timers: Use timers to regulate indoor temperature, activating heat at designated times throughout the day and evening.

Nutrition and Hydration: Encourage warm foods and drinks to nourish and warm the body, as individuals may be reluctant to prepare meals, especially those with memory loss, leading to potential dehydration and confusion.

Additionally, create a senior storm kit for winter emergencies, including a basic first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, bottled water, a pre-filled pillbox, warm clothing, and nutritious snacks. Include a reassuring note with your name, relationship, contact information, and the 9-1-1 emergency number.

As winter approaches, develop a plan and remain calm. Although it’s cold outside, careful preparation can ensure comfort indoors. Act now, and the benefits of readiness will be shared by everyone. Stay safe and warm.

About the Author: Gary Skole