Couple sitting outside

7 ways to support a person with dementia in cold weather

If you’re supporting somebody living with dementia, here are 7 ways to help make sure they’re safe and comfortable during the colder, winter months.

Winter can be a particularly difficult time for somebody living with dementia. The bad weather and colder temperatures can bring specific challenges, and can sometimes make symptoms temporarily worse. What’s more, people with dementia aren’t always able to communicate the fact they’re cold – or they may not even recognise it themselves.

Here are 7 ways to help support somebody living with dementia in cold weather.

1. Make sure the person is dressed appropriately

People with dementia won’t always remember to dress appropriately for colder weather, so it’s important to help make sure they’re wearing the right clothes. Layers are key to keeping warm, and the best materials for maintaining body heat are cotton, wool, or fleecy fibres.

If you’re going outside, remember that a lot of heat is lost through the head and neck, so make sure the person has a hat and scarf on. Gloves are also important for keeping hands warm. If it’s icy or snowy, make sure the person is wearing appropriate footwear, such as non-skid boots. 

2. Keep the room warm

Try to make sure any rooms that are occupied during the day are kept warm – it’s a good idea to aim for around 20 degrees Celsius

As well as putting the heating on, things like draught-proofing, thermal curtains and roof insulation can help maintain a consistent temperature. It’s also worth keeping a blanket within easy reach of a person with dementia, so they can grab it if they’re feeling chilly. At night, a hot water bottle or electric blanket can help keep the bed warm. 

Remember, the government offers a Winter Fuel Payment for people born before 25 September 1957, offering between £250 and £600 to help with heating bills.

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3. Encourage regular movement

Keeping active can help to boost circulation and help keep someone with dementia warm. It’s a good idea to encourage the person to move around at least once an hour.

If walking is difficult or extreme weather conditions make it hard to go outside, simply getting the person with dementia to move their arms and legs, or wiggling their toes can be helpful.

There are more ideas for exercises on our physical activity page.

4. Make the most of natural daylight 

Decreased sunlight can cause someone with dementia to feel increased anxiety, confusion, and even depression during the winter. 

You can help by making sure they’re exposed to natural daylight when possible. Get outside when you can – a quick walk around the block or even just sitting outside in the garden for a few minutes can do wonders.

At home, make sure curtains are open during the day to let in as much light as possible. You could also position the furniture so that the person with dementia is sitting near a window. As natural light starts to fade, make sure lights and lamps are turned on.

5. Stick to a routine

A big change in routine can cause someone with dementia to become confused or agitated.

If you do have to make changes to someone’s routine in winter – for example, changing nap times or daily walks due to limited daylight – try to do them slowly and gradually.

6. Be careful in icy or snowy weather

Perception issues can make it difficult for someone with dementia to see icy patches on a pavement or understand that snow can make a surface extra slippery.

If you’re out for a walk in icy or snowy conditions, make sure you’re supporting the person with dementia carefully. Encourage them to take smaller steps and walk more slowly than usual.

7. Eat and drink regularly

Keeping warm uses up a lot of energy, and a warm house can increase the risk of dehydration. It’s important to make sure someone with dementia is eating regular meals and drinking enough fluid during the winter.

Snacking throughout the day can help keep energy levels up, and warm drinks can help keep them at a comfortable temperature. They should avoid drinking alcohol as it makes you feel warm, but actually draws important heat away from vital organs. 

Do you have any other advice for supporting those living with dementia in cold weather? Leave us a comment below.

This article was first published in 2019 and updated in November 2022.

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my elderly mum hates socks and refuses to wear them even though she now feels the cold much more than ever. . I bought mum a sleeping bag and zip the foot area then cover her body like a blanket. she feels much warmer to touch and tells me that it is cozy. I also put mum in fingerless gloves so that she still has the freedom to use her fingertips. ( i use them myself in the cold and swear by them). i hope this tip helps.
Haha hilarious!!! This charity really does help the 1000s of people affected by dementia, carers and suffers alike, a nice cuppa and a singalong will be sufficient, we can all deal with this crisis until it magically goes the other way, while the government looks the other way and encourages carehome profits.

Myold dementia neighbour lives on her own. Carer 3 times day..none after 8pm and none before 9am. Her bedroom window is open at night in winter but heating is on. She wanders in the night. Is this safe ?

Hello there,

Thanks for getting in touch. It's a good idea to seek support if you're concerned about your neighbour's well-being.

Contacting social services might be a good way to find out what kind of help is needed - your local council's website should explain how to do this.

If you'd like to speak to somebody about the situation first, please call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. A dementia adviser will be able to learn more about your neighbour's behaviour and provide information, advice and support. Our advisers are available seven days a week, and you can find opening hours for our support line here:

We hope this is helpful.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

On a recent visit to Tenerife the temperature was 24C but very windy & my wife constantly complained she was cold is this a sympton of Alziemhers. Would appreciate other carers observations.

Agree with them even if it is right.

These excellent tips and advice is not just for Alzheimer people but all people with limited mobility young or old in the winter
Thank you so much for your advice

I am a carer for my wife who has a diagnoses of Alzheimer's and try to encourage her to be as independent as possible but have noticed she is only now only able to complete one task at a time. This is something we all need to remember, although the second part of a task appears obvious it is not for someone with dementia

I agree, one thing at a time. Make sure they understand each word of the task, my husband forgets common words each day.

Stephen, I agree only one task at a time. My wife was diagnosed about 5 years ago and completing tasks has become much more difficult. I find if I reassure her that I love her and will always be there seems to help,

Tom, it appears we are going on the same journey, my wife was diagnosed 2 years ago however on reflection she has had Alzheimer's for quite some time, good luck

Keep a stock of soup in - e.g. canned soup. This is a quick and easy way to keep someone warm and nourished outside a full meal. Incontinence can be an issue then, of course.

Be careful when and where the person living with dementia may fall asleep in the cold. The body temperature usually lowers when we're asleep, and so it's not good to doze off in a cold room.

I am one of many carers for an elderly lady and she is bothered with cold feet...I got her slippers with sole grips for use on the standaid...they jeep her feet cosy when sitting at the dining table where a draught comes in under and through the door... She also has a lovely blanket she lives.

I bought my wife an electrically heated snuggle from Lakeland which is not only economical but ideal for keeping her warm.

Hi Mary,
having had some recent involvement with an elderly Alzheimer person who is of a thin build with little body fat and has arrived for visits with obviously cold hands & arms which suggested mild hypothermia, I questioned the care worker who confirmed the bedroom was cold and a window was left open all night. the condition of this AZ is obviously deteriorating as autumn arrives with colder temperatures. I was not surprised to hear that continence issues are of increasing concern and note that while sundowning is well known the research interest appears to be more focused on the changes in daylight than on the fall in temperature so little attention is given to the increased confusion ect which I suspect are more to do with hypothermia than researchers realize, here the recent work that found Adipolectin, Leptin and insulin are key players in the rate of metabolism and it follows symptoms of hypothermia, needs full consideration. Terry

Yes; as a student, I will continue reading and searching all about dementia to support those in need when they they it. I am reaching to advance studies in dementia and will benefit from it after my studies about dementia care.
Mary Oparaocha.

Choose pyjamas instead of nightdresses as the latter can 'ride up' and expose the lower limbs. Bed socks with gripper soles to prevent slipping if the toilet is needed. A word of caution though about pyjamas: make sure they're not too long so that feet do not get caught up when walking especially if using stairs.

There is a good choice of quality PJs in supermarkets - choose with cuffs at the ankle to avoid trips and falls.

Visit your GP
Charge your phone in case need ambulance call
Report any body changing during the course of cold winter.