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Three Dementia Caregiving Tips
By Arden Courts of Jefferson Hills

During the winter season, there are special precautions to be aware of when caring for someone living with dementia. Changes such as bitter cold temperatures, snow and early darkness present special concerns for someone living with dementia. Below are three simple dementia caregiving tips to help you get through the winter season. 

Dress appropriately for cold weather
Cover as much of exposed skin as possible, provide several layers of clothing, and provide several layers of lightweight clothing for easy movement. Try to wear a hat or scarf since so much body heat escapes from an uncovered head. Also, don’t forget to cover the neck area with a scarf to cover up the exposed neck area.  Using mittens might work better than gloves since they are easier to get on the hand.  

Avoid slippery situations
 A loved one living with dementia will not necessarily dress to avoid slips and falls, so be sure boots are nonskid when purchased. There are many types of boot styles - try and look for a Velcro or zipper style of boot. Always look before you walk on a surface area to ensure the area is cleared from ice and snow. Perception problems can make it difficult for the person with dementia to see ice on the sidewalk or realize the ice is slippery or that snow is not a solid surface. 

Manage the winter blues and Sundowning
Sundowning is the term which refers to increased anxiety, confusion and the increased sleepiness due to the decreased sunlight. Wandering is the most challenging problem caregivers will face in the winter months. About 67% of the people with dementia wander and become lost during the course of the disease, and most will do so repeatedly. Wandering may be triggered when a person with dementia;

  • Searches for familiar objects, surroundings or people when they no longer recognize their environment. Is fearful of unfamiliar sights, sounds or hallucinations.
  • Tries to fulfill former obligations, such as going to work or taking care of a child or family member.
  • Escapes stress caused by noise, crowds or isolation.
  • Is not getting enough physical activity or socialization.
  • Searches for something specific such as food, drink or companionship. 

It only takes a moment for someone to leave the house, and the confusion and disorientation which accompanies the disease means a friend or loved one can get hopelessly lost in a matter of minutes.

For more information about Arden Courts of Jefferson, a Memory Care Community in the South Hills, please contact Terrie Eger at (412) 384–0300.

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