8 Winter Safety Tips for Kansas City Residents with Alzheimer’s

Kansas City winters can be really cold. Add in some snow and ice, and you’ve got potentially dangerous new obstacles for someone who has Alzheimer’s. As a caregiver, you’ll want to do all you can to ensure you’re loved one with dementia stays safe. Here are some winter safety tips:

  1. Dress your loved one in layers. When heading outside, use lightweight clothing for easy movement, but put on several layers (plus a coat, hat and gloves).
  2. Don’t use electric blankets. Someone with dementia might not realize the blanket’s too hot and end up getting burned.
  3. Salt and shovel sidewalks and driveways. Even if you’re not planning to go out, you never know if an emergency might force you to go somewhere or if your loved one might wander outside.
  4. Park in the garage when possible. Parking inside allows you to avoid icy steps, sidewalks, and driveways.
  5. Buy non-skid shoes and boots. Walking paths can be slick even after they’ve been shoveled.
  6. Install outdoor lights. Consider installing lights with motion detectors in case you forget to turn them on before you leave or arrive home later than expected.
  7. Reduce risk for wandering. Wandering can always pose a risk for people with Alzheimer’s, but you definitely don’t want your loved one wandering around Kansas City when it’s bitter cold outside. Take steps to prevent wandering, such as adding deadbolts up high, installing alarms, and using motion sensors. Also, keep a hat and gloves in your loved one’s coat pocket in case he or she wanders out of the house alone. When you’re cold, you sometimes stick your hands in your pockets without thinking. If your loved one finds a hat and gloves, he or she may put them on out of habit.
  8. Be prepared in case of wandering. If your loved one does wander off, you’ll want to do what you can to make sure he or she is found as quickly as possible. Things you can do to prepare include dressing the person in brightly-colored clothing, adding reflective material to clothing, using a GPS tracking device, and keeping police department phone numbers handy (and a photo of your loved one to give to the police officers). Here are the current Kansas City area numbers:
    • Kansas City Police Department: (816) 234-5111
    • Overland Park Police Department: (913) 895-6300
    • Prairie Village Police Department: (913) 642-6868
    • Leawood Police Department: (913) 642-5555