Perceived changes in temperature

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Catastrophe, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. Catastrophe

    Catastrophe Registered User

    Feb 15, 2019
    29
    I need some advice as it's getting really silly. Dad's room is kept at a steady constant temperature. But if it's sunny he says he is too hot and can't cope with the heat. If it is dull or rains he says he is freezing. Despite the fact that the temperature in his room is exactly the same. We have three thermometers in his room, just to check. We also have thermometers all over the house. Silly I know, just needed back up proof.
    In the evenings now he is insisting its freezing and drafty. I can feel no drafts, the temperature out of his room is maybe a degree lower. It's not that he is cold as to the touch he is warm and quite often sweating as he is wrapped up in so many blankets.
    This week at day care they decorated Christmas ornaments, so now he is convinced it will snow!!!
    My question is for hints and tips of ways to convince him he is actually warm. What I can do to give him the perception that it's ok and he is not really freezing.
    I don't need ways to keep him warmed up as he is frequently overheating himself already.
     
  2. Dunroamin

    Dunroamin Registered User

    May 5, 2019
    25
    Does he have an underlying infection?
     
  3. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,896
    Kent
    Hello @Catastrophe

    Your dad may be feeling the changes in temperature depending on whether it`s sunny or cloudy. It`s only a guess but this is what we do, try to think of how life looks from the perspective of the person with dementia.

    I would try not to convince him of anything. If he complains it`s too warm open a window or reduce his layers of clothing. If he complains he is too cold, give him a blanket or an extra sweater.

    You could also tell him you are putting the heating up or down for him, according to how he thinks he feels.

    I used to have to stand at the back door for air when my husband was home, he was always so cold the heating was on at a ridiculous temperature [for me].

    I understand you are trying your best to keep things as constant as you can but dementia is the least constant of any illness I know and so we are the ones who adapt.
     
  4. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    10,814
    Female
    South coast
    I think that a lot of people with dementia lose the ability to perceive hot or cold and look for other clues. One of the first signs of dementia that I noticed with mum was when she came and stayed with us and when it got to the evening she insisted that there was a terrible draught - previously she had always said what a lovely warm house we have.
    My OH now looks at the weather to decide how warm he is, too. If its sunny he will insist on going outside with no coat on even if its winter and there is ice on the ground! Many people check the radiators and if they are cold (because the room is warm and so they havent come on) will insist that the room is cold. Mum also used to say that something was wet when actually it was only cold.

    I think the messages from their body get scrambled in their brain.
     
  5. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,906
    Female
    As the others have said, you won't be able to convince him. His brain is telling him it's cold even if it isn't. I visited my mother's care home during the heatwave in 2018 and found her in her heaviest cardigan with a blanket over her! There is no point telling her she isn't cold, because she believes she is. So I wouldn't try to reason with your dad, if he feels chilly then let him add clothing or blankets.
     
  6. Catastrophe

    Catastrophe Registered User

    Feb 15, 2019
    29
    Yes, he has a hot room, a hot house and extra blankets, if he actually was infact cold. The problem is he thinks he is cold when in fact he is overheating and wet with sweat.
    There is no change in temperature, his room is at a consistent temperature. I can't let him overheat because he thinks he is cold, while at the same time being quite pink and sweating. He gets really ill and muddled if he overheats. And no it's not a fever from an infection, I know those signs.

    The problem is his perception of temperature is what he sees not what it actually is and not what his body tells him.

    I need advice or tips to be able to alter his perception, to prevent the dangers of overheating.
     
  7. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,896
    Kent
    If this is possibly caused by anxiety @Catastrophe, perhaps medical advice might be helpful.
     
  8. Catastrophe

    Catastrophe Registered User

    Feb 15, 2019
    29
    Yes, I suspect anxiety plays a large part. But we have been down that road for other issues and unfortunately either Dad can't take the pills for other medical issues or they have the reverse effect and make him more agitated and anxious.
    Which is why I was looking for tips on how to lower this perception and the anxiety so he can be safe and less anxious.
    I read somewhere that having a glowing red imitation fire in the room may help. Just wondered, other than strapping hot water bottles to him :) if anyone else had suggestions.
     
  9. Palerider

    Palerider Registered User

    Aug 9, 2015
    976
    Male
    North West
    I have posted on this before, there is not alot you can do in terms of persuasion because the changes to the brain are telling the person they are either cold or hot. I came home in the summer to find mum had turned the heating up to 30 degrees and there she was in bed underneath her duvet sound asleep.

    There are some articles that you might like to read, but they are research articles and heavy reading:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4620514/pdf/awv276.pdf

    https://academic.oup.com/geronj/article-abstract/39/1/30/562290
     
  10. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    1,371
    Difficult to change perception, but maybe try one of those heated throws? When he feels cold put it over him and turn it on. Some have timers so that it can be switched off after a certain amount of time and it may be that just having the throw over him after it has been on and then turned off (without him knowing) might make him feel that he is still warm? Plus it would avoid having numerous blankets on him. I've no idea whether this would work or not but might be worth a try.
     
  11. brambles

    brambles Registered User

    Sep 22, 2014
    231
    Female
    NW England
    Hi @Catastrophe . When mum lived at home, she always had the heating on full, no matter how warm it was. However, she had one of those flame effect electric fires which you could put the effect on without the heat. We would do this in summer and she would believe she was warm when it was switched on, even though no heat was coming from it.
    Funnily enough since she moved into a Care Home where it is adequately warm but nowhere near as hot as her own home used to be, she rarely complains about feeling cold. Perhaps because there is no fireplace to see and the radiator has a cover on so is also not clearly visible.
     
  12. charlie10

    charlie10 Registered User

    Dec 20, 2018
    376
    From what I have read, this is often a physical problem with the brain.....the hypothalmus is the part that deals with temperature regulation, and if this is damaged from traumatic injury/dementia etc it no longer works to control body temperature properly.....my FiL has the heating going full blast because he's cold, but my dad (93 and older than FiL) can't wait to get out to cool off when he visits him, so it's not an 'elderly' thing,and isn't something that can be rationalised to the pwd as their brain is misleading them.
     
  13. Palerider

    Palerider Registered User

    Aug 9, 2015
    976
    Male
    North West
    Yes the hypothalamus has a part to play but so does the hippocampus part of the brain, this is the reverse of what you might think logical, but as the person feels cold the hippocampus in an altered brain switches on the need to get warm the sense/perception memory part (because it gets false signals its cold and likes to work between 30 and 39 degrees celsius), not to warm the body, but to bring up the fooled temperature the rest of the brain thinks its at, the hippocampus kicks in and makes the person want to get warmer because it doesn't like the signals other parts of the brain send saying its cold (when it isn't) -it all gets very complex. There isn't one mechanism at play but several.
     

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