AlzU Blog

Tips for Caregivers for Surviving Winter Part II

If you are an Alzheimer’s caregiver, you probably know that winter can bring challenges you don’t have to deal with during other seasons of the year-such as icy walkways and long dark winter days.

Safety is always a concern for the elderly, but particularly in the winter months when walkways are slippery and day light hours are limited. 

Question #4: How can I improve home safety in winter months?
A: Make sure walkways are well lit and snow and ice are removed promptly after a snow storm.  The use of ambulatory devices such as a cane or walker on slippery outside areas presents a very high hazard for falls.  Encourage your loved one to stay indoors if possible when the weather is inclement, or ensure someone is there to assist him/her in walking safely indoors. 

Winter months can be long and lonely-particularly for elderly folks who live along.  Isolation is a major trigger for depression in seniors who may feel cut off from the outside world in the winter.  Long cold dark winter days can be particularly difficult for seniors who live alone.

Question #5: How can I support my loved one in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease when I cannot always be there to provide socialization and ensure he/she is not becoming depressed?
A: Consider an adult day center during the daytime hours for seniors spending long hours in the house during the winter months.  One of the primary functions of an Adult day center is to provide socialization.  If you don’t have one in your local area, check out your local community center-often times there is a meeting room where seniors can go to have coffee and interact with other retirees.  Be sure to report any signs or symptoms of depression to the primary care physician.  Common symptoms include:

•Losing interest in hobbies or other activities
•Social withdrawal and isolation (doesn’t want to leave home)
•Weight loss or loss of appetite
•Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

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