AlzU Blog

Tips for Caregivers for Surviving Winter Part I

If you are a family caregiver, you probably know that each season brings with it its own set of challenges.  Here are some suggestions from other caregivers about surviving winter.

Dry skin is a common problem we all face in dry cold winter climate, but particularly for the elderly.  Seniors tend to have less natural oils and moisture in their skin which can be prone to getting very dry and cracked.

Question #1:What type of skin products work well for seniors in the winter? 
A: There are several types of natural moisturizers that work very well for sensitive skin.  One of the best is Shea butter.  You can get pure Shea butter without added fragrances or chemicals at a health food store or online.  Another great choice is coconut oil-be sure to avoid the virgin coconut oil if you want to stay away from the smell of coconut.  The regular coconut oil is much less expensive and it has no scent at all.  Coconut oil is all natural and usually hypo allergenic for most people.  Avoid cheap lotion that is comprised of a lot of water and chemical ingredients.  As the water content is absorbed, many of these products may actually cause an additional drying effect. 

Getting your loved one to get undressed can present an additional winter challenge. Seniors tend to be cold most of the time and particularly in the winter months.

Question #2:  How can I get my loved one to get undressed for a bath in the winter?
A: Make sure the heat in the bathroom (or the room he/she is getting undressed in) is really warm.  Use space heaters and add extra thick warm rugs to cover cold tile floors.  Run the water in advance and have it ready to minimize chilling in the bathroom. 

Speaking of room temperature, many elderly folks like to keep the thermostat up to a pretty high temperature for comfort, but keeping the heat at a lower temperature is healthy for minimizing bacteria as well as other types of molds growing around damp areas.

Question #3: How can I ensure my loved one is comfortable while maintaining a healthy heat level in the home?
A:  Consider a pre-programmable thermostat so you can preset the heat at a lower setting at night and during the time you may be cooking in the kitchen (which will help to heat the kitchen area).  Use space heaters to heat up living areas where your loved one is at most of the day.  Try using a heating pad or electric blanket or microwavable heat packs in strategic places (such as the feet, stomach or back) and the rest of the room can be a little cooler while he/she stays cozy and warm.

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