How to look after those living with dementia as the seasons change

Now that we’ve turned our clocks back and the days are shorter, many of us will feel disoriented and mourn the loss of daylight.

For someone living with dementia, the effects can be profound. People tend to become increasingly agitated or confused, a symptom called ‘sundowning’, which typically occurs in the late afternoon and lasts into the night.

If you or a loved one suffers from dementia, you may notice that the changing seasons can have an impact on mood and behaviour.

Below we share our very own tips on how to ensure your loved ones are kept safe and comfortable during the colder, darker, winter months.

Enjoy daylight

Ensure that your relative is exposed to natural daylight when possible. Decreased sunlight can cause someone with dementia to feel increased anxiety, confusion, and even depression during the colder months.

At Rosebank we encourage our residents to layer up and sit in the garden for a short spell, or we take them for a walk around the local area if we’re able to.

If your loved one doesn’t want to venture outside, be sure to let as much daylight into the home as possible, by lifting blinds and keeping curtains open.

Position your loved one near the window and once the evening starts to draw in make sure the lamps are turned on, or better still put them on a timer so the room is always well lit.

Maintain an exercise regime

Staying active will help you to live well with dementia, during the winter months, as it helps to boost circulation and keep you warm, which is much needed when the temperature drops.

If you’re not able to go out for a walk, Dementia UK have some great exercises that you can perform from the comfort of your sofa, with videos to guide your or a loved you through some basic moves.

A nutritional diet

A healthy, balanced diet is particularly important throughout the cold, virus, pneumonia and severe flu season. It is especially important to ensure your loved ones are eating enough and monitor that they are eating a nutritional diet.

Keeping warm uses up energy, and a warm house can increase the risk of dehydration, so drinking plenty of fluids is essential.

Snacking throughout the day can help keep energy levels up, and hot drinks can help keep you warm. 

Also check that they are taking their medications and maintaining a regimen of appropriate vitamins and supplements that can only help to strengthen them against winter viruses.

Layer up

It is important to note that people living with dementia won’t necessarily know – or remember – how to dress appropriately in the colder temperatures. Not only do they need to be wearing the right clothing, but adding additional layers is key to staying warm.

Most of our heat is lost through our head and neck, so if you’re taking your loved one out, make sure they’re wearing a hat and a scarf. Appropriate footwear is also important, along with a nice, warm pair of gloves.

Stick to a routine

The importance of routine and familiarity to persons with dementia is huge, therefore changing a routine can cause them to become agitated or confused and at Rosebank we avoid that all costs.

If you need to alter someone’s routine then it is best to make these changes gradually to help decrease those undesired behaviours, and protect both residents, loved ones and care givers’ wellbeing.

Let us help

If you or a loved one is worried about the oncoming winter weather and requires a little helping hand, then our friendly team can provide much-needed support.

To find out more about Rosebank, call us on 01993 850308 or email manager@rosebankcarehome.co.uk

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