The winter weather can create threats to the health of people of all ages. However, seniors with dementia face greater risks than much of the rest of the population. Ice, snow, cold, and less daylight can all be possibly dangerous when the proper precautions are not taken.
With this in mind, make sure to follow these safety tips when caring for an older loved one that has dementia.
Assume All Surfaces Are Slippery
The moment it gets cold outside, ice can start to form on the ground. It’s easy to spot normal ice, but black ice remains hidden from the eye. It looks like regular asphalt or concrete but ends up being quite slippery when stepping on it.
You and your loved one should take extra care when walking outside. Take things slow if you have to. Make sure you and your loved one wear shoes (preferably boots) with non-skid soles and good traction. Putting salt on walkways can further help deal with ice.
Get a Handicapped Sticker or License Plate
The more walking outside your loved one has to do, the greater risk of encountering an icy patch. Have them apply for a state-issued Handicapped license plate or sticker they can put on their vehicle. That way, they can park in the Handicapped spots right in front of buildings.
Use Indoor Parking Lots/Garages
Again, the less walking your loved one has to do outside in the winter, the better. If you’re heading somewhere with parking garages — such as a downtown area — park inside one of these instead of in an outside lot. There is less chance of running into ice.
That said, still assume that all surfaces are slippery. It doesn’t hurt to be extra careful.
Dress Extra Warm
Not wearing sufficient warm clothing in the winter can lead to hypothermia and frostbite. The CDC found that, in the early 2000’s, over 50% of hypothermia deaths were people aged 65 and older.
Make sure your loved one wears plenty of warm clothing, such as warm socks, boots, gloves, a hat, a scarf, and a warm winter coat.
Avoid Electric Blankets
Electric blankets can be amazing devices for keeping warm at night, but they pose a burn risk to seniors with dementia. Your loved one might not realize that the blanket is getting too hot, and end up burning themselves.
Instead, make sure they have plenty of extra regular blankets.
Get Your Loved One a GPS Tracking Devices
The CDC study mentioned earlier presented several cases of young and old people that went missing and were later found passed away due to the cold. In particular, one of the older adults had dementia.
Consequently, getting your loved one a GPS tracking device can be an excellent idea in case they wander.
At Angels on Call, our caregivers are experts at caring for seniors with dementia, especially during the wintertime. We make sure they can live satisfying, enjoyable lives while remaining safe all season long. Contact us today to learn more.