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Alzheimer’s Insights: Cold weather brings new challenges for patients, caregivers

Scott Finley

The past week was one for the record books.  Crippling cold weather devastated Texas, and the final dollar cost is likely to boggling.

However, more importantly, there is the human cost.  For people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, cold weather poses special challenges.  Caregivers need to watch for signs of cold such as pale skin, acting sleepy, cold feet or hands or shivering, and make sure the person is dressed warmly in layers while inside.  Monitor indoor temperatures, and act accordingly.

The best advice for going out is not to go out.  However, if it can’t be avoided, take extreme precautions against slips, falls and cold air. Always walk next to the person who is living with Alzheimer’s, and be alert to what is underfoot.  Make sure gloves and hats are worn, and keep as much skin covered as possible. Limit outdoor time as much as possible.

Body heat dissipates from older people at a much faster rate than younger people.  Be on the lookout for chills and slowed movement.  Once back indoors, warm up with blankets and warm liquids (not coffee, tea or other caffeinated products).

The cold weather will go away, but we are still left with COVID-19 and you can always get the latest information about the Association’s COVID-19 emergency preparedness guidelines for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in long-term or community-based care settings here:

https://alz.org/professionals/professional-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-tips-for-dementia-caregivers

 The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

Scott Finley is Media Relations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association® in Texas.  He can be reached at scfinley@alz.org