Winter is fast approaching and with it comes a few new challenges. In the winter, getting outside and active can be fun for everyone. But going outdoors with someone with dementia requires great care. Keeping your loved one living with dementia warm can be quite challenging. When we get older our vascular system changes and we get cold much more easily. The caregiver must therefore think about how cold their loved one is and how warm they need to be dressed. They won’t always dress appropriately for colder weather and slippery conditions on their own.
Perception problems may make it difficult for your loved ones to see slippery conditions and they may believe puddles to be a solid surface. When taking your loved ones out during the Winter months make sure you remember to do the following:
- Cover all exposed skin. Hats and scarves are particularly important.
- Dress in bright colours and add reflective material to clothing if possible.
- Encourage your loved one to take smaller steps and slow down.
- Make sure they wear non-skid boots especially on rainy days.
- Buy boots that use velcro instead of laces to make it easier for your loved one to dress themselves.
It is important to keep the house at a good temperature during the Winter as a person with dementia may not know if they are warm or cold. Health problems such as diabetes, thyroid problems and arthritis, or certain medications may make it more difficult to stay warm. A heater is important to stabilise the temperature but always take extreme caution that your loved one does not burn themselves. They would not know how to set the temperature on the heater or it could be dangerous for them to do so themselves, so please always make sure someone is around to assist your loved one.
People with dementia may feel increased anxiety, confusion, and even sleepiness due to the decreased sunlight in the winter months. To manage these issues:
- Encourage some physical activity each day.
- Install special bulbs that simulate sunlight.
- Open curtains during daylight hours.
If you have any more questions, we encourage you to join our free dementia support groups that take place all over Cape Town and Bryanston.