It’s sad but true that people with dementia are more vulnerable to cold weather and more likely to suffer ill health as a result. So as the nights draw in and temperatures start to drop, here’s a few simple ways to keep the person you love warm and well all winter.
1. Get Outside
It might be easier to stay warm by staying indoors, but when the brain doesn’t get enough daylight it can cause other problems, including a form of depression called SAD (Seasonally Affective Disorder). So make the most of natural daylight whenever possible, even if it’s just a 15 minute walk to the shops. The combination of natural light and physical activity is a proven mood booster.
Tip: If you can’t get out enough or are worried that the person you care about gets particularly down in winter months, it might be worth investing in a special SAD light box which produces light designed to simulate natural daylight. Light boxes have been around for a few years now and some research suggests they can be effective, particularly if they’re used in the morning. (It’s usually recommended that you sit in front of one for around 30 minutes each day). Although they aren’t available on the NHS, light boxes are considerably less expensive than they used to be.
2. Close the windows
Sounds a bit obvious perhaps, but many people still think it’s healthy to leave a window open in winter, especially in the bedroom. It isn’t. In fact, leaving a bedroom window open all night means you’ll breathe in cold air which is definitely not good for your health.
3. Lighten Up
If the person you care for gets up a lot during the night, the cold and darkness can be disorientating, leading to trips and falls. But there are some simple ways to make the home safer at night. For example, invest in a few night lights for stairs and hallway or try sticking some inexpensive luminous tape on important items such as light switches, glasses case telephone or stairs.
Tip: Motion sensor night lights can be stuck along stairways and skirting boards. They light up when someone walks passed, helping to prevent falls.
4. Keep drinking
Regular hot drinks can make a big difference to body temperature and it’s still possible to become dehydrated when it’s cold. If mobility is an issue why not make a flask of tea (or hot soup) and leave it next to a favourite armchair so they can easily reach it.
Tip: Try a special mug that uses drink detection technology and allows you to record friendly voice messages/reminders to keep drinking.
Tip: Make the most of your day clock. Our bestselling Day Clock with Reminders comes with 20 pre-loaded reminder messages, including, ‘have a cup of tea’ – or you can record your own personalised message.
5. Layer Up
Staying warm is all about layering. Several thin layers will keep you warmer than one thick layer. Start with thermal underwear, tights and socks and pay particular attention to hands, face and feet – if they’re very cold, they can potentially trigger dangerous rises in blood pressure. A hat can also be useful since body heat is lost through the head.
6. Dress for bed
Warm clothing is important during the night as well, so make sure the person you care about doesn’t go to bed in a thin nightdress or boxer shorts. Bed socks and bed jackets will keep them cosy enough to sleep.
5 ways to get help with heating bills
The big chill may not have arrived yet, but it’s best to be prepared. After all, vulnerable people should not have to suffer or become ill because they’re too scared to put the heating on.
Did you know?
Generally speaking, their main living room should be at least 21C (70F) and the bedroom at least 18C (65F). There is a fair amount of help available for those struggling to pay heating bills, providing you know how to access it. Make sure to explore all the options below
1. Winter Fuel Payment
This is not means tested, so if you or the person you care for was born on or before 5 August 1953 you could be entitled to between £100- £300 to help with heating bills. This won’t affect other benefits. Most people who are eligible receive their payment automatically between November and December and everyone should have received it by January 15. For more info go here.
2. Cold Weather Payment
If temperatures in your area fall below freezing, you might be able to get more money. This additional payment is given to people who are receiving Pension Credit, Income Support or Universal Credit. For more info go here.
3. Affordable Warmth Grant
If you struggle to keep their home warm and cosy, it might be that they need better insulation or a new boiler you might be entitled to this Government grant, though you will probably have to make a contribution towards the improvement cost. For more info go here.
4. Warm Home Discount
This entitles you to a one-off discount on your electricity bill from September to March (up to £140). To qualify, you need to be receiving the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit. For more info go here.
5. Charitable Grants
If you are still struggling, you might be able to get a charitable grant. The Energy Saving Trust and Charis Grants provide information and advice on grants and home improvements to make your house warmer and to keep the bills down.