There’s no two ways about it: Canadian winters are tough—even the most able-bodied Canadian struggles to get through the winter season unscathed. Imagine how difficult it is for a person living with dementia. Their routines are thrown off thanks to the lack of sunlight, grey skies and frigid temperatures.
How can you provide additional support to your loved one with dementia during the winter? Compassion Network Home Care has compiled a list of ways you can keep your loved one safe, happy, and healthy this winter season.
If the average person struggles in the winter, imagine how difficult the changing seasons are for someone with dementia. In fact, recent studies have shown that the effects of dementia tend to worsen during the winter months. When caring for a loved one, keep your eyes peeled for symptoms of sundown syndrome, depression, and difficulty sleeping.
The body’s circadian rhythm is dictated by the rise and fall of the sun. When winter comes around and the days shorten, our bodies get out of sync. The change in season and sunlight greatly impacts those with dementia.
Sundown syndrome refers to the increased confusion people with dementia experience in the late afternoon after dusk and evening. Sundowning symptoms are recognizable by increased distressed behaviour, like pacing, anxiety, agitation, aggression, and disorientation.
The unpredictable and challenging nature of the condition varies from person to person, but there is one certainty: the winter blues hit extra hard for our loved ones with dementia. It hurts to watch them struggle, especially during seasonal changes, but there are ways you can help!
Just because the sun goes to bed early in the winter doesn’t mean we have to! The premature darkness of winter afternoons tricks the brains into thinking it’s time for bed, but it’s important to encourage them to stay awake. Staying true to their usual routine helps foster a sense of calmness, comfort and safety.
To tackle sundowning, we recommend creating a calm, ambient environment before sunset. Playing soothing music, using gentle lighting, and engaging in their favourite activity are some of the best ways to counteract the anxiety triggered by sunsets.
Spending time outside, chilly as it may be, is a significant mood booster. Bundle your loved one up and go for a stroll in the sun. If it’s too icy or they don’t want to go for a walk, even just sitting outside with a warm mug of tea will boost their spirit. Be sure to take advantage of what little sunshine the winter season provides!
Providing the care your loved one deserves can be challenging, especially in the winter– but you don’t have to do it alone. Asking for help is the bravest thing anyone can do, but how do you know where to start?
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. The team at Compassion is here to help you and your family work through the hard times so you can make the most of the good times– together.
Compassion Network Home Care is an accredited agency that specializes in dementia caregiving services in Edmonton, Alberta. When we work with a new dementia client, we care for them like they are our family, too. For us, it’s personal.
If you are curious about our care services, ready to take the plunge, or are planning for the future, get in touch with us. We will be more than happy to chat with you about your options and possibilities.
Let Compassion Network Home Care help ease the stress of the winter season. Give us a call today.