As the weather begins to cool down, many people start getting excited about the pumpkin spice lattes, fall leaves, and bringing out all their favorite fall and winter outfits from the bottom of their closets. For people with dementia or Alzheimer's, however, the cooler weather also means that caregivers need to monitor their temperature and comfort a little more closely.
Those with memory challenges may not recognize that they are cold, may not feel cold, or may not be able to express that they are cold, so as their caregivers, it is up to those around them to proactively address this issue before it arises. The expert team at Marshall Pines in Evans, Georgia shares several tips to assist caregivers with monitoring temperature changes for their loved ones experiencing memory challenges.
Keep Blankets and Jackets Close By
Having something visible and within reach makes someone much more likely to use it. Having blankets and jackets close by and easily accessible increases the likelihood that your loved one will proactively use them, or that you will have them handy when they need a reminder. For example, having a blanket at the foot of the bed when your loved one is getting ready to take a nap makes it easier to adjust their bed layers to their comfort level. Remember to have jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves by the door as a reminder for both you and your loved one to layer up before going outside.
Monitor Your Loved One’s Hands and Feet
One of the easiest ways to check to see if someone is cold is by physically touching their skin, particularly their hands and feet. By simply feeling someone’s hands or feet, you can often tell if they are cold or not. People experiencing memory challenges may not feel cold or communicate to you that they are cold, so by monitoring their body physically, you can proactively ensure they remain warm enough. Marshall Pines recommends checking on your loved ones regularly to make sure they are properly hydrated and warm during the change of seasons.
Encourage Season-Appropriate Attire
Did you know that most of our body heat is lost through our heads? This is just one of the reasons that having appropriate layers is so important before heading outside into the cold weather. If you or your loved one is planning to go outside during the cooler temperatures, we encourage you to bundle up with season-appropriate attire prior to doing so. This may include coats, scarves, gloves, hats, sweaters, and warm socks, and shoes. Having on the appropriate attire is very important for body heat retention, especially for those who also have other conditions where body heat loss is a side effect of their medication.
Recognize the Signs of Decreased Temperature
Proactively ensuring that you and your loved one remains at a comfortable temperature is a far better course of action than reacting to a decreased temperature. Following the tips above and properly monitoring should prevent any temperature issues from arising.
But, in the unfortunate event that your loved one does experience a significant decrease in temperature, whether that is due to medication changes, inability to communicate, or dehydration, it is important that you can recognize the signs and symptoms. If your loved one is experiencing any shifts in behavior such as severe confusion, agitation, exhaustion, fumbling hands, shivering, or slurred speech, they may be experiencing hypothermia or a severe decrease in temperature. Check and adjust the thermostat to make sure that surroundings are kept warm and ensure that your loved ones bundle up to regain warmth. In the event that signs and symptoms worsen, contact your medical provider immediately.
The brisk air of fall signals the coming of many fun seasonal activities! Make sure that you and your loved one remain warm and comfortable, so you can enjoy the change of seasons.
To learn more about residency or to schedule a tour of Marshall Pines, contact our friendly team today.