As dementia advances past the early stages, choosing what to wear and putting them on can be a challenging task for the person. He may have forgotten how to dress or may be confused over the choices of clothing. His deteriorating motor skill in fastening buttons may also pose a problem for him.
Nevertheless, it is still important that the person should be given the freedom to choose what to wear for as long as he can. Letting him choose his clothes retains his sense of personal style and identity. But when he does need assistance, you must offer it with utmost tact and sensitivity.
Here are some tips that might help you plan when dressing or grooming your loved one with dementia.
Ask for his choice. When possible, ask the person what he wants to wear. This way, he feels a sense of dignity and importance. If he finds it difficult to choose, you may suggest his favorite color or clothes. Or, offer him a choice of only two options.
Limit his choices. If the person has a lot of clothes, remove those that are not frequently used. He may panic seeing so many clothing choices.
Organize the dressing process and encourage independence. As much as possible, allow the person the freedom to dress.
Choose simple and comfortable clothing. Shirts and cardigans with the buttons in front are easier to work. It is even more comfortable for the person if he wears loose fitting clothes.
Arrange his clothing in the order that each should be put on. Make sure that the background where you place his clothing on is non-patterned to avoid confusion.
Undo zips, buttons, and fasteners before he starts dressing.
Ensure that all the items are not inside out.
Hand him one piece of clothing at a time. And give simple, direct, and step by step instructions. Instead of telling him to “get dressed”, you may say, “put your arms in the sleeves”. It helps if you use gestures as you give the instructions.
If he makes a mistake in putting an item on the wrong way or position. Be patient and tactful in correcting him.
Help him stay comfortable.
Make sure that the temperature of the room where he gets dressed in is comfortable. The room’s lighting levels should also be suitable for him.
Ask the person if he wants to use the toilet before getting dressed. If the person has a balance problem, make him sit on a chair with arms.
Observe privacy. Close blinds and curtain in the room. Also, see to it that no one walks in and disturbs him as he dresses.
If he insists on wearing the same outfit over and over, buy duplicates or offer similar options. Do not mind even if his outfit is mismatched. Just focus on the fact that he was able to get dressed and had kept good personal hygiene. This is more important than developing a urinary tract and other infections from poor sanitation.
Allow him if he wants to wear several layers of clothing. But make sure he does not get overheated.
When going outdoors, make him dressed for the weather.
Let him wear a non-slip and comfortable shoes.
Your loved one should change his clothes regularly. A person with dementia would sometimes refuse to change his clothes or may be reluctant to undress. To persuade him to change his clothes every day, you may apply these tips:
Tell the person you love seeing him wearing something new.
Encourage him to dress for certain occasions.
Put away dirty clothes and put clean clothes in its place when he is in the shower or when he goes to bed.
Make dressing a positive experience for the person with dementia. Compliment him on the way he looks. Encourage him to take pride in his appearance.