Winter can be a difficult time for anyone, but for someone living with dementia it can be tough. The bad and colder weather can bring different challenges and can make symptoms of dementia worse.
It can be that those with dementia, can’t communicate that they are actually cold or may not even know themselves that they are feeling cold.
Here are some ways you can support someone with dementia in the colder months:
Ensure they are dressed for the weather
Those with dementia may not know the best way to dress to match the elements of the time of year, make sure they are wearing the right clothes. Layers are always best and clothes made from cotton, wool, or fleece are ideal. We always encourage independence at Everycare, so to have just suitable clothing to choose from will prevent the difficulties of having to tell someone their choice is wrong. Pack the summer clothes away so that the only choices available are suitable for the winter months.
Keep the environment warm
Not every room is going to be occupied in the day, so concentrate on keeping the rooms that will be used warm. Aim to have them at a regular temperature of between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius.
Use draught excluders (being careful they aren’t a trip hazard) and thermal curtains to keep the heat in. Blankets are a great way to keep someone less mobile warm, so keep those in easy reach if needed. Prepare the bed with a hot water bottle OR a electric blanket (not both as this is a danger).
You can also be entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment for anyone born before 5th November 1953 which is a payment of between £100 and £300 which will help towards heating bills.
If someone is able then keeping active is a great way to keep blood circulating and keeping warm naturally – moving around at least every hour will help with keeping active.
If someone is unable to walk around then simply get them to move their arms and legs or wiggle their toes on a regular basis.
Making the most of natural light
Decreased sunlight can cause someone with dementia to feel anxious, confused and even depressed during the winter months.
With shorter days and longer nights there is less opportunity to get natural daylight but try to get out of the house when you can. Being outside even just a walk around the block or going into the garden for a short time really improves mental health.
If someone is unable to go outside then putting a chair by the window, with curtains open wide will help boost mood, putting on lights or lamps are on when the natural light fades.
Routine is key for someone with dementia and changes to that routine can cause them to be confused or agitated. Sometimes in the winter months routine has to change – if this is the case make changes slowly and gradually so that it doesn’t affect someone to much.
Eating and drinking
When your body works to keep itself warm it uses more energy and with the increase inside environmental temperature of heating it can dehydrate the body, so eating and drinking regularly is really important.
Having small regular meals/snacks throughout the day helps keep energised and warm drinks can keep someone feeling comfortable and content. Avoiding alcohol is suggested as even though it may give you a warm feeling it does actually draw important heat away from the vital organs.
*Featured image by Freepik