My mother lives with me and we can't agree on a temperature to keep the heat on- what can we do?

4 answers | Last updated: Nov 13, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mom has recently moved in with me and now we share a 1500 sq ft house. She is 90 and for years has kept her heat on about 78 degrees. I am 50 and minie is always set at 65. Well to accomodate my loving mother - I have moved the heat up to 74. She is always cold and I am miserably hot. It takes all my momentum and energy. This is a real problem since we have moved much of her home into mine and organization needs to be done. What solutions have folks come up with who found themselves in similar situations?

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Many disagreements arise around the temperature in the house.   We all have our inner thermostats, there are different ideas about saving the environment, and heating costs can be so expensive.  

Poor circulation and slow walking and low energy lead to feeling cold.   Also, the general discomfort of being old sometimes makes a person want to be wrapped in a warm cocoon without any drafts, or sound or much light.  

Still, you as the caregiving daughter with so much to do and so much to heat you up, must have a cooler environment.  Being miserably hot also reduces the circulation.  

I like the idea of circulating this question around the world to other people.  The creativity of the solutions of others is like a breath of fresh air circulating through an open window.

Before the ideas start coming in I would suggest trying some of these ideas:

  • Try the thermostat on 68. 
  • Make your mother's room cozy with her own comfortable chair and a little space heater.
  • Make sure she has long underwear, little socks, sweater and even an attractive hat to wear when she sits in the living room.
  • Try to make sure that each place she sits has an afghan or shawl.
  • Find out what makes her laugh.

Try to find family or friends who will spend some time sitting with your mother: listening, reading, tending plants, or quietly holding hands.  All of the comforts of these activities will help to improve the circulation of energy in you and your mother's mutual world.   I don't know if the world hands out gold stars often enough to the precious daughters who bring their mother's home.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

My mother lived with me for 6 years until she passed away.  We were very fortunate that we were able to set aside a room and a bathroom and fixed it up so that she felt that she had her own private space and could get to her bathroom without going into the rest of the house.  As she got older and weaker she stayed in her room more and more napping in her lift chair or piecing quilts and she was very content since our activities did not disturb her and vice versa.  She could have company visit in her room and do as she pleased.  We installed a small propane wall heater which she could use if her room got too cold.

Jens answered...

I agree with the other answers.  My grandma, however, likes her temperature at about 85 degrees and absolutely refuses to wear anything warm at all.  In her mind if she can't stay warm wearing nothing but a very thin housecoat-it is too cold.  We put a space heater in her room that she can keep at a temperature she is comfortable with, and in return she pays for the difference in electric costs.  The downside, however, is that she spends a lot of time in her room and if she comes out at all it is always "toooo cold."  Otherwise, we are all pretty satisfied.

Timothy answered...

My mom lives alone and also feels cold often. Our problem was she was adjusting the thermostat way up and forgetting to turn it back (the house was up to 89° a couple of days). I installed a programmable thermostat and locked out manual adjustments. For now we've settled on 76° (wake), 74° (day/evening), and 62° (sleep). These settings are way above the EnergyStar suggested settings (and would be way too hot for me) but it seems to be working for her (while still on the cool side). I don't want her too cold but in my opinion having the thermostat much higher than this just can't be healthy.