Cold weather tips
Staying warm and safe outdoors
In the winter, getting outside and active can be fun for everyone. But going outdoors with someone with dementia requires great care. He won’t always dress appropriately for colder weather and slippery conditions. Perception problems may make it difficult for him to see ice on the sidewalk or he may believe snow to be a solid surface. To manage outdoor risks:
- Cover all exposed skin. Hats and scarves are particularly important.
- Dress in bright colours and add reflective material to clothing.
- Encourage her to take smaller steps and slow down.
- Make sure she wears non-skid boots.
- Buy boots that use Velcro instead of laces to make it easier for her to dress herself.
Keeping warm inside the home
It is important to keep the house at a good temperature during the winter as a person with dementia may not know if he is warm or cold. Health problems such as diabetes, thyroid problems and arthritis, or certain medications may make it more difficult to stay warm. To help him keep warm:
- A temperature of 68 Fahrenheit or 20 Celsius is a good minimum.
- Encourage him to wear long johns under his pajamas with socks and slippers around the house.
- The government of Ontario has programs to assist low-income with the cost of heating during winter months. http://www.lowincomeenergy.ca/energy-assistance/
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.
The risks when people with dementia go missing are particularly high in the cold winter months. It can also happen without warning. He can get confused and disoriented even close to home. Contact your local Alzheimer Society for specific programs to help keep him safe.
Last Updated: 05/06/13