As of December 22, winter has officially arrived. For many of us, it’s felt like winter for months. The snow has fallen, roads have iced, the sun sets earlier and earlier.
Cold winter weather can bring a unique set of health hazards to all of us, but especially to seniors living with Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia. Learn more about winter hazards for seniors with dementia and how to keep your loved one safe this season.
Top Winter Safety Tips for Seniors with Dementia
From less daylight and extreme temperatures to slippery surfaces, winter can bring unforeseen hazards to seniors with dementia.
These tips are meant to help caregivers be more alert to the dangers of colder weather for loved ones who have Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia:
- Apply for a state-issued Handicapped sticker or license plate to park closer to stores.
- Assume all surfaces are slick and slow down.
- Avoid the use of electric blankets. People with dementia may burn their skin on these, not realizing that the blankets are getting too hot.
- Be sure your loved one has non-skid boots to reduce falls.
- Be wary of space heaters that can pose a fire risk if knocked over. Remove space heaters or choose ones that will automatically turn off if tipped over.
- Consider adding a sharp tip to the end of a cane for extra grip on slick surfaces.
- Consider getting your loved one a GPS tracking device in case of wandering.
- Cover exposed skin and provide layers of lightweight clothing.
- Help your loved one dress appropriately for colder weather, including hats, scarves and mittens.
- If your loved one suffers from sundowning, turn lights on earlier, open curtains during daylight and consider using light therapy to help reduce symptoms.
- Keep driveways and sidewalks clear of snow and ice.
- Use a mitten clip (designed for skiers) to keep track of mittens.
- Use boots that Velcro instead of laces so your loved one can put his or her own shoes on.
- Use indoor parking or parking garages when possible.
What other winter safety tips do you have for dementia caregivers this season? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.