Stay Safe in Cold Weather


Dementia patients can lose body heat fast. A big chill can turn into a dangerous problem before a person with Alzheimer’s even knows what’s happening. Learn how to stay safe in cold weather.

Losing too much body heat is a serious problem called hypothermia (hi-po-ther-mee-uh).

Protect people with with dementia from hypothermia during those months when it’s cold outside. Check out these tips on how to stay safe. Share it with your family and friends.

What is hypothermia?

Hypothermia is what happens when your body temperature gets very low. For an older person, a body temperature colder than 95 degrees can cause many health problems, such as a heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage, or worse.

Being outside in the cold, or even being in a very cold house, can lead to hypothermia. You can take steps to lower your chance of getting hypothermia.

Bob’s story

Vermont winters can be very cold. Last December I wanted to save some money so I turned my heat down to 62 degrees.

I didn’t know that would put my health in danger. Luckily, my son Tyler came by to check on me. He saw that I was only wearing a light shirt and that my house was cold.

Ty said I was speaking slowly, shivering, and having trouble walking. He wrapped me in a blanket and called 911. Turns out I had hypothermia. My son’s quick thinking saved my life. Now on cold days, I keep my heat at least at 68 degrees and wear a sweater in the house.

Keep warm inside

Living in a cold house, apartment, or other building can cause hypothermia. People who are sick may have special problems keeping warm. Do not let it get too cold inside and dress warmly.

9 Tips for keeping warm inside:

  1. Set your heat at 68 degrees or higher.
  2. To save on heating bills, close off rooms you are not using.
  3. To keep warm at home, wear long johns under your clothes.
  4. Throw a blanket over your legs.
  5. Wear socks and slippers.
  6. When you go to sleep, wear long johns under your pajamas, and use extra covers.
  7. Wear a cap or hat.
  8. Ask family or friends to check on you during cold weather.
  9. Bundle up on windy, cool days

Stay warm outside

A heavy wind can quickly lower your body temperature. Check the weather forecast for windy and cold days. On those days, try to stay inside or in a warm place. If you have to go out, wear warm clothes.

Tips for bundling up:

  1. Dress for the weather if you have to go out on chilly, cold, or damp days.
  2. Wear loose layers of clothing. The air between the layers helps to keep you warm.
  3. Put on a hat and scarf. You lose a lot of body heat when your head and neck are uncovered.
  4. Wear a waterproof coat or jacket if it’s snowy.

Ask Your Doctor

Talk with your doctor about how to stay safe in cold weather. Some illnesses may make it harder for your body to stay warm. Taking some medicines and not being active also can affect body heat. Your doctor can help you find ways to prevent hypothermia.

Tips for talking with your doctor about hypothermia:

  1. Ask your doctor about signs of hypothermia.
  2. Talk to your doctor about any health problems (such as diabetes) and medicines that can make hypothermia a special problem for you.
  3. Ask about safe ways to stay active even when it’s cold outside.

Warning signs of hypothermia

Sometimes it is hard to tell if a person has hypothermia. Look for clues.

  • Is the house very cold?
  • Is the person not dressed for cold weather?
  • Is the person speaking slower than normal?
  • Is the person having trouble keeping his or her balance?

Watch for the signs of hypothermia in yourself, too. You might become confused if your body temperature gets very low. Talk to your family and friends about the warning signs so they can look out for you.

Early signs of hypothermia:

  • cold feet and hands
  • puffy or swolen face
  • pale skin
  • shivering
  • slower than normal speech or slurring of words
  • acting sleepy
  • being angry or confused

Later signs of hypothermia:

  • moving slowly, trouble walking, or being clumsy
  • stiff and jerky arm or leg movements
  • slow heartbeat
  • slow, shallow breathing
  • blacking out or losing consciousness

Calling 911

Call 911 right away if you think someone has warning signs of hypothermia.

Tips for what to do after you call 911

  • Wrap the person in a warm blanket.
  • Do not rub the person’s legs or arms.
  • Do not try to warm the person in a bath.
  • Do not use a heating pad.


Your questions answered:

Q. What health problems can make it hard for my body to stay warm?

A. Diabetes, thyroid problems, Parkinson’s disease, and arthritis are common problems for older people. These health concerns can make it harder for your body to stay warm. Talk to your doctor about your health problems and hypothermia. Your doctor can tell you how to stay warm even when it’s cold outside.

Q. Can medicines lower my body’s temperature?

A. Yes. Some medicines used by older people can make it easy to get hypothermia. These include medicines you get
from your doctor and those you buy over-the-counter. Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any medicine.

Q. What can I do to stay warm at home?

A. Try closing off any room you are not using. Also:

  • Close the vents and shut the doors in these rooms.
  • Place a rolled towel in front of all doors to keep out drafts.
  • Make sure your house isn’t losing heat through windows.
  • Keep your blinds and curtains closed.
  • If you have gaps around the windows, try using weather stripping or caulk to keep the cold air out.
  • And, it helps to wear warm clothes during the day and use extra blankets at night.

Q. Can I get any help with my heating bills?

A. You may be able to get help paying your heating bill. You can call the National Energy Assistance Referral service at 1-866-674-6327 to get information about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. It’s a free call. If you have a computer with internet, you can also email them at:

Summary — What you can do about hypothermia

  1. Set your heat at 68 degrees or higher.
  2. Dress warmly on cold days even if you are staying in the house.
  3. Wear loose layers when you go outside on chilly days.
  4. Wear a hat, scarf, and gloves.
  5. Don’t stay out in the cold and wind for a long time.
  6. Talk to your doctor about health problems that may make it harder for you to keep warm.
  7. Find safe ways to stay active even when it’s cold outside.
  8. Ask a neighbor or friend to check on you if you live alone.
  9. If you think someone has hypothermia:
    • Call 911 right away.
    • Cover him or her with a blanket.
    • Don’t rub his or her legs or arms.
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The Sandwich Generation

As a caregiver have you ever felt “sandwiched” right in the middle between having to care for your children and a spouse as well as caring for your elderly parents?   Generally known as the “Sandwich Generation,” this growing population is estimated to be affecting one in eight Americans between the ages of 40 and 60 according to a Pew Center study. This same study found that one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15%) are providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child. For many baby boomers caring for grandchildren is a further extension of this sandwich generation phenomenon, which may curtail retirement plans and place extra burdens on their finances. The bottom line is that most caregivers are caught in the middle when it comes to caring for others Continue reading

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Ten Beneficial Activities for Dementia Patients

Here are ten beneficial activities for dementia patients that may slow cognitive impairment associated with the disease. For best results, try to maintain a consistent program.

  • Puzzles: Depending on how far an individual’s dementia has advanced, puzzles are a great source of distraction and a good activity for their mind. A 100-piece jigsaw with lots of colors is a good choice. The pieces should be large and the images should not be child-oriented but rather scenic views or pictures of animals. Floor puzzles work well since they usually have large pieces and there aren’t so many that your loved one will get discouraged or frustrated. Assembling them on a table is recommended to avoid having to get up off the floor.
  • Photo and Scrapbooking: There are several activities you can do with pictures. Help your senior sort them by subject, type or date. When you’re finished, mix them up so they can be sorted in a different way the next time. Put together a photo collage or make a scrapbook by gluing pictures onto the pages and then writing notes about their memories next to it. Look through old photo albums and try to identify who is in the picture, when it was taken and what the individual remembers about it.
  • Sorting: Get items that your family member can sort, such as buttons of different sizes and colors, poker chips, bottle caps, balls or rocks. Have them group the various items together. Be sure to keep an eye on them, however, so they don’t try and eat the objects.
  • Stringing: Let them make a chain by stringing things like Cheerios, fruit loops or popcorn and then hang the chain outside for the birds and squirrels. This activity is even more enjoyable because they can snack while they are stringing.
  • Coloring: Coloring is a great decision-making activity that also helps to foster accuracy and strengthen their ability to concentrate. Participants choose the colors and then work on staying inside the lines. It’s also fun and can relieve stress for the seniors and the caregivers.
  • Ball toss: Gather up a group of residents and a ball and enjoy yourselves. Form a circle and roll the ball toward the seniors and have them kick it or toss it back.
  • Games: It is difficult for someone with dementia to learn new games. The best ones are familiar and only have a few steps. Those who are still in the early stages of dementia would benefit from easy crossword and word search puzzles that have large type. Childhood games, such as Go Fish, Old Maid, War, Dominos and Bingo, are fun, too. Difficulty retrieving words is an early sign of memory loss. Word games can be fun and easy. Ask the individual to complete a familiar phrase, like, “Somewhere over the__ or Easy come, easy__.”
  • Life skills: Encourage seniors to help with basic household chores. They can fold clothes, dust, vacuum, sweep the floor and set the table. Completing these tasks gives them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
  • Exercise: Engage them in physical activities, such as walking, dancing or stretching. It can be as simple as having them slowly raise their arms several times or bending at the knees or from side to side to improve their circulation.
  • Reminiscence therapy: Seniors love to reminisce. This form of cognitive stimulation works wonders for improving the quality of life for someone with dementia. Activities could involve listening to music, baking and eating a special family recipe or telling “I remember when” stories. Looking at pictures of cars, celebrities, clothing or events from their childhood also can bring back those feelings from “the good old days.”
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4 types of people

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The Sandwich Generation

What is The Sandwich Generation? If you are taking care of an aging parent and have children at home it’s YOU! This is a new role in the game of life for which no one can ever rehearse. Becoming a Caregiver to an aging parent presents extraordinary challenges. That is where Taylor Made Home Care can help, whether you need short/long term respite care, hourly or 24 hour care. Call us we can help (440)946-6446.
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Happy New Year

New Year’s Reminiscence Therapy


When a person with dementia has a problem with short-term memory, “reminiscence therapy” can help by keeping the focus on long-term memory. Learn why it’s the perfect fit for the New Years holiday.

New Year’s Eve can be stressful for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, especially if you’re having a party. The sudden influx of emotion and excitement can trigger anxiety in those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. It can lead to difficulty coping and negative emotions.

But, New Year’s Eve can still be a fun and enjoyable experience for a loved one suffering from dementia. After all, New Year’s Eve is also a moment to reflect on past experiences and remember the moments that warmed their soul.

“Reminiscence Therapy” in dementia takes advantage of strong long-term memories in people with early or mid-stage dementia. Steering clear of short-term memories and reinvigorating long-term memories in Alzheimer’s patients takes advantage of powerful and emotional ties to the past.

This New Year’s Eve, if you are a caregiver or loved one celebrating the holiday with someone with dementia, use this opportunity of reflection to try and connect with their past memories of moments they loved.

Old movies, old songs, and even moments from their history can bring a smile to their face and a joy in their hearts. Reflecting on the past can make your loved one feel included in your celebration, less stressed about the new situation, and happy to be surrounded by family.

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March for Meals 2015

We will be there!
This just in! “MARK” your calendars! The Council on Aging is excited to announce that our 10th Anniversary March for Meals will take place on Saturday, March 7th at Great Lakes Mall! Our 2015 Honorary Chairperson is Lake County resident and NewsChannel 5 Meteorologist MARK JOHNSON!! Stay tuned for more details in the January edition of the Bridge!
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