Coping with colder weather and staying active with dementia

Get tips to help people living with dementia cope as weather cools in fall and winter.

Two women exercising in a snowy park

Cold weather tips for fall and winter

Staying warm and safe outdoors

In the winter, getting outside and active can be fun for everyone. But going outdoors with someone with dementia requires great care. They won’t always dress appropriately for colder weather and slippery conditions. Perception problems may make it difficult for them to see ice on the sidewalk or they may believe snow to be a solid surface. To manage outdoor risks:

  • Cover all exposed skin. Hats and scarves are particularly important.
  • Dress in bright colours and add reflective material to clothing.
  • Encourage people to take smaller steps and slow down.
  • Make sure you and others wear non-skid boots.
  • Buy boots that use Velcro instead of laces to make it easier for a person with more advanced dementia to dress themselves.

Keeping warm inside the home

It is important to keep the house at a good temperature during the winter as a person with dementia may not know if they are warm or cold. Health problems such as diabetes, thyroid problems and arthritis, or certain medications, may make it more difficult to stay warm. To help keep warm:

  • A temperature of 20 Celsius or 68 Farhenheit is a good minimum.
  • Encourage a person with dementia to wear long underwear under pajamas with socks and slippers around the house.

Other issues

Some people with dementia may feel increased anxiety, confusion, and even sleepiness due to the decreased sunlight in the winter months. To manage these issues:

  • Encourage some physical activity each day.
  • Install special bulbs that simulate sunlight.
  • Open curtains during daylight hours.

The risks when people with dementia go missing are particularly high in the cold winter months. It can also happen without warning. People can get confused and disoriented even close to home.

Contact your local Alzheimer Society via for specific programs to help keep you and those you care for safe. Or reach our national information and referral line at 1-855-705-4636 or for assistance finding info or connecting with area experts.