Caregiving has its challenges to begin with, add foul weather and freezing temperatures and other challenges are sure to present themselves! Here are some common challenges caregivers face during the winter months and some suggestions on how to improve the situation.
Challenge: Protecting and moisturizing your loved one’s skin during the winter
Solution: While many enjoy a hot bath or shower during the colder weather this can dry out skin. Some seniors can suffer from what doctors call “winter itch” resulting in excessive itching of dry skin causing a rash-like skin breakdown which may require antibiotic cream. Since a lot of elderly have chemical sensitivities, avoid o=using baby oil or other lotions containing artificial ingredients and fragrances, opt instead for an organic coconut oil or all natural lotion with no harmful ingredients to make sure you don’t worsen the condition.
Challenge: Getting a loved one to bathe when it’s colder outside
Solution: Bath time can be a struggle any day of the year, add cold bathroom tiles and you’ve got a full on battle on your hands! Try to cover tile and other cold surfaces with plush bathmats (always making sure they don’t cause a fall risk), turn the heat up in the bathroom before bath time, or consider a space heater or radiant heating panels. These can come equipped with motion sensors, automatic safety shut-offs, and automated timers for safety purposes.
Challenge: You and your loved one argue over the thermostat
Solution: Not unlike the issue with bathing, temperature can be a tough issue to tackle when caring for a senior. As people age, typically circulation in their extremities begin to diminish; you might notice many seniors often seem more bundled up than is necessary for the weather. Sometimes a constant feeling of cold can be a sign of a thyroid problem or a side effect of medication, so consult your loved one’s health care professional before making any major changes. A significant step you could take is installing a programmable thermostat, high enough so your loved one can’t reach or in a place they don’t have access to. This will allow you to control each room remotely and hopefully cut back on some of the disagreements regarding thermostat settings! Another option can be placing a heating pad on the back of your loved one’s chair. Sunbeam and Sure Fit both offer heated slip covers that are viable options. Only use heating pads or electric blankets that feature cut-off temperatures, however, to avoid any minor burns or fire hazards.
Challenge: The Winter Blues!
Solution: Keeping things warm and cozy help to combat the winter blues. Having warm lighting, comfy blankets, pillows, and music playing in the background can help get you and your loved one through those harsh winter months cooped up in the house!
Challenge: Safety Outside?
Solution: Winter weather can be a safety hazard for anyone, especially for a senior who may already have mobility challenges. If your loved one uses a walker or a cane, make sure they have a second one to use only outside that has a good grip. Canes are notoriously bad on ice so if the device does not have a decent grip or your loved one doesn’t have the best balance when using it, try to convince your loved one it might be better to stay inside until you can get them a better walking aid. You can also arrange to have someone meet your loved one at the door so they never attempt to go outside alone and they have someone to accompany them supporting balance and safety.
While caregiving in the winter might seem like an insurmountable task, you can do it, we know you can! And if you ever have any questions or feel as though you need added support in caring for your loved one, help is only a phone call away! Call us at 781-244-1901 to see how All Care can help support you by providing peace of mind and keeping your loved one safe and happy as they age in place.