My in-laws are always complaining about the cold. Is there a playbook I can borrow to learn how to keep us both comfortable?

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Stop the thermostat wars. My in-laws are always complaining about the cold, sometimes turning the AC unit off in the summer when it's near 100 degrees outside. I have let them know it's ok to turn up the unit when I'm at work so they don't freeze (today's claim) but I am breaking out in heat related hives and can only take off so many layers of clothing. Must I retreat to my bedroom and sweat under the ceiling fan? Is there a playbook I can borrow to learn how to keep us both comfortable? I know it's harder for them to be warm, but they have blankets, throws, jackets, hoodies, etc. why must I overheat to the point of nausea?

Answers 1 to 10 of 24
well, I asked the maintenance staff at work about the thermostat. They just laughed and explained that they were ordered to run a certain program by the boss and that is what is going on. BUT they left the thermostat "available" but not connected. Or they could just "come clean" and explain that it is not workable, but I guess they don't want to admit that yet. Can you "lock down" a heating/cooling program and tell everyone that they have to adjust by wearing extra clothing as needed?
We have that problem at my aunt's house. I give (and she does too) everyone permission to turn the thermostat down or on if she has turned it off. She wants them to be comfortable even if she isn't but she forgets and turns it off.
She claims she doesn't touch it but I see her do it on camera. It's almost like a reflex. She walks by and she turns it off. Then, she will get too hot and start taking off shirts. Then she will turn it on really low and the place will be freezing. Sometimes we will see that she has the back door open for her dog and the AC blasting away. It can be a real problem.
I bought a Nest thermostat which is designed to be programmed remotely. Can be adjusted with my phone. I haven't gotten it installed yet so can't tell you how well it will work but it comes with great reviews. The plan is to leave the existing control where it is, unconnected but with the batteries still in it so she can have the satisfaction of adjusting the control even though it doesn't affect the actual temp.
It will cost a bit more to run a separate line for the new one and to put it in a place out of her usual area. After I bought it (at the suggestion of a niece) I learned that the AC unit has to be compatible (late enough model) with the thermostat so I have that to check out. Just mentioning it here so if you decide to look into one, you also need to check that part out.
My aunt does wear extra clothing when she has people staying that require the temp to be really cool. She'll put an extra blanket on her bed, etc. Circulation gets bad in feet and hands and they do get cold. Wool socks, flannel shirts,cuddle duds, undershirts all help. Getting up and moving about is what they really need to do, not just creeping from one chair to the next. I give her chores to do when I need it to cool off the kitchen while I work. Like chopping celery or onions or carrots or peeling eggs. I notice she takes a layer or two off when she gets busy. I also use a stand fan at times when she has let the house get too hot. I can put the thermostat down but it is going to take a few hours before the house is cool enough to add more heat with the range or oven or dishwasher. I try to utilize the convection oven or the microwave or crock pot more during hotter months. I also check vents above her chair and bed to make sure she isn't in direct line for the coolest air.
They really are cold and you really are hot so you have to work together to find a solution. Call them before you leave the office and ask them to put the unit on 70 or whatever number you choose. That's when they can go put on an extra layer and get up and do a few chores. Set the table or water the plants, fold laundry, take out garbage (whatever their capabilities) or something that gets them moving. If you are like most women when you come home from work you start your second shift and want to make dinner, pick up the house and maybe do laundry so think about ways you can have less stress and not have to work as hard in the evening hours.

I feel your pain, catrisler. I compromise and keep the thermostat set on 80. Still in the morning and late in the evening she is too cold and wants to turn the AC off. In the afternoon and evenings, she is too warm and wants to turn it on. She drives me crazy about the temperature of the house. Really it isn't the house temperature that's the problem. The cold that comes toward the end of life isn't fixed by cranking up the house temperature. That just kills anyone else around the elder. That kind of cold is on cured metabolically and with exercise, but that is hard for elders to do.

The thermostat wars are probably one of the hardest things for live-in caregivers to endure. Sometimes I'm afraid to leave for a couple of hours because no one is here to protect the rabbit from heat stress.

I've learned it isn't possible to reason with older people about closing vents and putting on warm clothes when it is their house. Winters are okay. We can close the vents and open the windows. Summers are when it gets rough. For our own health, we have to force a compromise with them no matter how much we hear bad stuff yelled at us.
That is a horrible situation. Can you put a lock on the thermostat or put it up higher? You shouldn't have to live like that. Set the thermostat to where you are comfortable, and if they are cold they will put on a sweater. You could get a window ac for your room. Put sweaters close by where they can see them. It might work, good luck.
Lol, my memories of the AC/Thermostat wars of our childhood was one of the reasons that we thought that mom would be healthier and happier in a facility.

When she lived in Independent Living, her apartment regularly felt like a sauna, although I had her doctor explain to her that she was putting her health at risk by keeping her abode so warm. I think it's probably one of the things that led to her stroke, which occurred in July.

Once mom was in a NH, her environment was temperature controlled and she was always dressed in a sweater, summer or not.

Silk underwear also helps retain heat.

You are not required to endanger your OWN health in order to care for your elders.
There is often a lot of hyperbole surrounding the thermostat wars, those who are sensitive to the heat are dying when the temp is above 72 and those who feel most comfortable in the tropics are frozen solid at the same temperature. Living with mom I was fortunate to be a "cold" person and had no problem keeping the house warm, but common sense has to prevail and a reasonable median - 75? - set.
Top Answer
Nest thermostats work for us. We have one for each A/C and heat zone. Settings control timing of heat/air according to usage patterns and motion detection near the thermostats. I can control from my phone so many issues are alleviated. A several degree “lock” prevents hubby from making extreme temp changes. My utility bills are consistent, the house is more comfortable and hubby still wears fleece jackets and shorts year round. Life has improved as his Parkinson’s and Lewy Body dementia progress. I am no longer the thermostat police, the Nest does the job and hubby is more comfortable he says because the thermostat listens to him. He walks by the thermostat and his motion causes the unit to light up acknowledging his presence. It encourages exercise too as he goes by often to let it know he’s there. And I’m a bit saner with one less battle to negotiate.
The thermostat has been a huge issue with my FIL. When he was still at his home he had gotten to the point that he could not figure out the thermostat and would call my husband who would patiently explain up button, down button, temp on the left is the actual temp, temp on the right is the set temp, multiple times per day. This went on day after day. Then my husband would go over to FILs house and find heating/cooling off, or set to some insanely high or low temp. The same thing went on when he was hospitalized and then in rehab. He'd call and ask my husband if the heating/cooling was ever going to come back on/go off again. Now he's living in our home and I have been very firm about the thermostat being off limits. We've adjusted a couple of degrees above our preference but there is no way that we can do all the things that need to be done in a day suffering in a house/sauna. He normally wears a flannel type shirt and has a light jacket that he puts on or takes off. He has two blankets that he can put on or take off. But the thing that has really helped is a heating pad. He can use it or not, turn it on/off etc and have some local control of his temp without making the rest of us unbearably miserable.
We too dealt with this issue in our home. FIL was miserly before his dementia set in and that coupled with thinking he’s freezing to death if the thermostat is set lower than 80 was causing much angst.
Hubby and I would set it to 74 and he’d change it as soon as we were out of sight.
We had decided to get a cover to put over the thermostat and lock it but he managed to short circuit the a/c unit by messing around with all of the buttons (he forgot how to set the darn thing).
After a costly a/c repair bill which he was aware of, he left the thermostat alone and has forgotten all about being cold.
In the long run we got lucky the thermostat wars issue was resolved with out further action on our part.
Good luck dealing with your situation - I’d check into options suggested by other posters here, I always get great advice reading up on how everyone resolves their issues!
I have the same problem. My mother is always cold and she turns on the heater when it is 90 outside. Unfortunately, my only resource is to go to my room where I have purchased a small portable air conditioner and if she doesn't want to be alone she will put on sweatshirts and her pajamas or bathrobe whatever so that she is warm otherwise she knows I will go in my room. She can see me perspiring and I get migraines when I extremely warm. Luckily so far it has worked and when she does turn the heater on I turn it off immediately. Eventually I win.... Good Luck!

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