Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia comes with unique challenges. But when the weather turns cold there are even more factors to consider.
Everything from minimizing fall risks in parking lots to preventing confusion and fear during a winter storm are factors to consider.
These cold weather tips can help you get prepared to keep your loved one safe and comfortable.
Preventing Winter Falls
During the winter, ice is often an issue and can be very dangerous. Even the smallest amount of ice lead to a fall – especially for those who may not be as steady on their feet as they once were. But when you have to get to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment there are times icy steps or sidewalks just can’t be avoided.
Proper Footwear – If you must take your loved one out in inclement or icy weather make sure they have warm footwear with plenty of traction. They may insist on wearing their favorite bedroom slippers but safe footwear is critical to preventing slips or falls.
Parking – Whenever possible pull your car into a garage or as close to a non-slippery surface as possible. Help them in and out of the car to a safe, non-slippery space. If possible, recruit a friend or family member to help your loved inside while you park the car.
Many hospitals, doctors offices and shopping areas offer low-cost or free valet parking so you can get as close to the entrance as possible and walk your loved one inside without having to deal with slippery parking lots or walking too far from a parking space.
Safety at Home – Monitor your outdoor space for hazards inkling icy steps, uneven sidewalks, tree branches or anything that could facilitate a fall. Keep a supply of ice melt on hand and follow best practices to use it effectively and safely including storing it away from children, pets, or anyone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Even in winter months getting outside and staying active can be fun and help everyone stay healthy. Even a walk around the block or around the back yard can boost someone’s mood and keep boredom away – it just takes some extra precautions. Caregivers will need to help those with dementia to dress for colder weather including:
- Hats, scarves, mittens or gloves that are easy to get on and off
- Wear appropriate shoes or non-skid boots
- Pay attention to slippery stairs sidewalks, ice falling off trees, slippery or slush snow that could cause someone to easily lose their balance
Too Cold To Get Outside?
Those living with memory loss struggle to separate memory from the physical state of present-day living. They can often become bored overwhelmed or agitated which can lead to Alzheimer’s wandering. When it is too cold outside it is still important to try and stick to your daily schedule to prevent these behaviors.
If your daily walk isn’t feasible because of cold weather, plan ahead and have other activities ready. Chose those that will help promote movement and inspire purpose. Such as playing cards, appropriate crafts or even walking around the house or looking out the window at bird feeder.
Winter Storm Coming?
If the forecast calls for winter storm or severe cold take precautions early. You will be more relaxed and so will your loved one. If they sense you are worried and nervous they can easily pick up on your behavior.
Plan ahead by stock up on supplies including food, medications, incontinence supplies, flashlights, batteries, hats and blankets. Plan for some fun activities including puzzles, listening to music, making snowflake crafts or clipping coupons.
Power Outages at The Memory Center
Both the Memory Center Richmond and Virginia Beach have several cold weather safety features in place including snow removal, backup generators, emergency food supplies and plans to maintain fully staffed.