Dementia and cold weather

In the midst of winter’s chill, supporting someone living with dementia is crucial for their safety and comfort. Here are 7 effective ways to help during the colder months to ensure their well-being.

Wear appropriate clothing

Dementia may affect one’s ability to dress appropriately for the cold, so it’s crucial to help them wear the right clothes. Layering is effective for warmth, and when heading out, ensure they wear a hat, scarf, and gloves. In snowy conditions, prioritize non-skid boots or shoes for safety.

Our Senior Support Worker, Julie, recommends wearing multiple thin layers instead of thick ones for staying appropriately clothed. Layering provides flexibility in managing body temperature throughout the day, allowing individuals to add or remove layers as needed.

Keeping warm inside the home
Keep occupied rooms warm, targeting a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius. Ensure easy access to a blanket when they feel a bit chilly. For nights, use a hot water bottle or an electric blanket to keep the bed warm.

For those born on or before 25th September 1957, a Winter Fuel Payment can help with heating bills, ranging from £250 to £600. Additionally, a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’ of £150 to £300 is available exclusively for the winter of 2023 to 2024.

Our Service Development Coordinator, Emily, top tip for keeping warm inside the home is using hot water bottles (avoid boiling water and do not fill to the brim), keep doors and windows closed, use draft excluders, layer clothing, place clothes over radiators for warmth, invest in electrical heated blankets (with auto-switch-off), and have blankets and thicker duvets available for a cozy night’s sleep.

Taking Vitamin D supplements

During the winter months in particular, it can be difficult to get the right amount of sunlight, and the vitamin D that comes from this to maintain healthy bones and to boost the immune system. Make sure they take vitamin D supplements to build up their immune system. We advise consulting a pharmacist or GP if someone is on other medications.

Encourage regular movement

In colder months, staying active aids in keeping individuals living with dementia warm and boosts circulation. Encourage at least an hour of movement; if outdoor conditions are harsh or walking is challenging, simple arm and leg movements or wiggling toes can be beneficial.

 Stick to a routine

Disruptions in the daily routine can agitate or confuse individuals living with dementia. When changes are necessary, implement them gradually to minimize distress.

Take extra care in icy or snowy weather

Perception challenges can make it difficult for someone living with dementia to see icy patches on a pavement or comprehend that snow can make a surface extra slippery.

If you’re out for a walk in icy and snowy conditions, make sure to support the person carefully. Encourage them to walk at a slower pace than usual.

Eat and drink regularly

Staying warm consumes energy, and a heated home can raise a dehydration risk. Ensure those with dementia eat regular meals, stay hydrated, and snack for sustained energy. Opt for hot drinks to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Avoid alcohol, as it may create a false sense of warmth, drawing heat away from vital organs.

Our Service Development Coordinator, Emily, has a top tip for eating and drinking, she says that maintaining year-round nutrition is vital, especially in winter. Prioritize vitamin C rich vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower for immune support. Start your day with a nourishing, slow-release breakfast like porridge, enhanced with fruits, nuts, and honey.

In winter, increase intake of B12 rich foods like cheese, eggs, and fish to boost immune function and reduce fatigue. Warm drinks like full-fat milk offer B12, proteins, and calcium for overall health. Hydrate and warm up with squash.

Enjoy nutritious winter soups paired with wholegrain bread for a satisfying meal. Try to avoid too much salt to ensure a balanced and healthy diet.

If you are worried about a loved one who is living with dementia, take a look at our Dementia Support page for further information here.                       

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