Caregiving for the Elderly with Dementia addresses the importance of providing activities to avoid or prevent negative of challenging behaviors. As we through our list of ADLs (activities of daily living): dressing is the focus of this page. Proper, clean clothes can instill a sense of security and improve well-being and self esteem. It can make one feel better, even if that person has dementia.
Particularly in the early and middle stages of dementia, most folks can do at least some portion of dressing and undressing themselves. They might need nothing more than just having their clothes laid out, maybe some proper cueing or reminders as well.
More on Caregiving for the Elderly with Dementia: Dressing
These tips can improve the dressing experience:
- Promote independence with dressing, as with any ADL, as long as possible
- Respect privacy and dignity; even if your family member no is longer capable of feeling embarrassment, or undresses inappropriately, it is important to guard their dignity
- As with all ADLs, offer cues and reminders; many in the early stage of dementia are physically capable of handling their clothes; they might need cueing if they forget when to dress or what to wear
- Don’t allow too many clothes in the drawers and closets; many choices can be very confusing
- Create a routine by putting on clothing in the same order each time
- Don’t give too many choices, but allow him to choose clothing if he is able and willing
- Lay out clothes in an organized fashion
- Clothing and shoes should be comfortable and attractive
- Be aware of dressing needs related to other acute or chronic illnesses, such as the need for soft shoes for diabetics, “TED” or support hose for the lower extremities, etc.
- If your family member likes to wear the same clothes, try to get matching clothes so they can be rotated
- Be patient when helping or observing your family member getting dressed
- Change clothing as needed, especially after meals; don’t let them go through the day wearing soiled clothes
- Evaluate those who undress frequently; sometimes they think it’s time to go to bed, or they need to go to the bathroom, they are too hot, bored, etc. There is an activity apron that you can use to stop this behaviors.
- Many from past generations dressed and changed differently than we do today; be careful about imposinyg our values on them to the point of causing difficult behaviors
- Minimize buttons and zippers; use elastic and Velcro when possible
- Dressing should be done as consistently (similar types of clothing) and routinely as possible (upon arising in the morning, similar bedtime clothing, etc.)
- Tube socks can be practical and easier than regular socks since there are no heels to line up
- Shoes should be the nonslip variety, because many with dementia who need dressing assistance also might have some ambulation assistance needs (personal or device)
- Like the rest of us, those with dementia will gain or lose weight over time, which can affect the level of independence with their ADLs; therefore, watch for how their clothes fit and make adjustments as necessary
- Consider jogging suits, especially if your family member is difficult to get dressed or undressed, or is incontinent; they are easy to put on and take off, easy to clean, and practical for long-term use
- Avoid pantyhose and slips for females with dementia unless she feels uncomfortable, incompletely dressed, or vulnerable without them
Dressing and undressing is probably not one of the first ADLs you find yourself assisting your loved one with. Those with dementia who remain home at this point can, for quite some time, be relatively independent with this task. Applying some of the above ideas as you need them will prove to be helpful when the time comes.
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