Navigating the shift from winter to spring as a neuropathy caregiver

How I keep my mother-in-law comfortable during the change in seasons

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by Ezekiel Lim |

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March signals a change in seasons, often accompanied by a change in temperatures. Caregivers of patients with familial amyloid polyneuropathy (FAP) must be mindful of the transition from cold temperatures to warmer ones. My mother-in-law’s peripheral neuropathy symptoms make her susceptible to pain during extreme hot or cold weather.

During winter, my mother-in-law stays inside the house as much as possible. Layering her clothes creates extra pressure that irritates her skin and lower limbs, so she tries to avoid it. The transition from winter to spring may bring warmer temperatures in some regions, but colder temperatures tend to persist through early May here on the East Coast.

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Choosing proper clothing

Even as caregivers prepare for the onset of warmer temperatures, we must keep layers, such as sweaters and light jackets, handy during the spring. That said, heavier jackets, gloves, and even winter hats may hibernate from spring until late fall.

Caregivers should monitor weather forecasts during this season and step outside to test the actual temperature before leaving the house. However, we must also keep in mind that we may have a greater tolerance for cooler temperatures than our loved one with FAP. While I may be comfortable outdoors in a hoodie or long-sleeved shirt, my mother-in-law could need additional layers that would make her uncomfortable.

In addition, too much physical exertion in chilly or warmer weather could aggravate neuropathy pain, even for more mobile patients. Caregivers must practice discernment in deciding whether or not being outside may be too much for the patient. My mother-in-law generally doesn’t want to go out when it’s too cold, even if she’s using her electric wheelchair.

Dressing patients for warmer temperatures

Hotter temperatures may also cause discomfort in patients with irritated skin, especially in the arms and lower extremities. At its worst, hot weather can cause peripheral neuropathy flare-ups in patients, potentially resulting in rashes, itchy skin, and a burning sensation below the skin. If the patient gets too hot, they may risk high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate as the body tries to self-regulate. Keeping the house at a reasonably cool temperature may help FAP patients stay comfortable in warmer weather.

As winter becomes spring, caregivers must practice discernment in helping their patients dress for the change in weather. They must also maintain a reasonable temperature inside the house if the patient is uncomfortable going outside.

Ultimately, the patient’s comfort is important for the caregiver, too, as it allows both parties to enjoy their time together without worrying about the patient’s well-being. My family enjoys the time spent with my mother-in-law more when she’s not experiencing discomfort and pain.

Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.


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