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Tips for Assisting a Loved One with Dementia in Dressing

Caring for a senior loved one with dementia can present various challenges, especially when it comes to helping them with daily tasks like dressing. Here are some practical tips to assist individuals with dementia in dressing themselves while maintaining their dignity and promoting independence.

  1. Simplify the Process. Simplicity is key when it comes to dressing someone with dementia. Reduce the number of clothing options available.  Don’t ask a broad question such as, “What do you want to wear today?”  Instead, offer a choice between two options.
  2. Function Over Form.  Choose comfortable, easy-to-wear garments with minimal buttons, zippers, and fastenings. Consider clothing with elastic waistbands or Velcro closures. These first two simplifications will make it easier for your loved one to select and put on clothes independently.
  3. Establish a Routine.  Create a consistent dressing routine to provide structure and familiarity. Choose a specific time of day when your loved one is most alert and receptive. Ensure a calm and quiet environment, free from distractions, to minimize confusion. Clearly communicate each step of the dressing process, using simple instructions and visual cues if necessary. Breaking the process down into manageable steps and following the same order each time can help your loved one feel more at ease.
  4. Offer Assistance Gradually. While promoting independence is crucial, it is also important to provide appropriate assistance when needed. Begin by encouraging your loved one to dress themselves, helping only when they require it. Resist the temptation to take control for expedience.  Provide gentle prompts and guidance, allowing them to maintain a sense of control and dignity. Use visual cues, such as demonstrating the proper way to put on a garment, or place clothes in a specific order to facilitate the dressing process.
  5. Adapt Clothing.  Adapting clothing can make dressing easier for individuals with dementia. Consider using clothing with front closures instead of back closures to simplify the process. Replace smaller buttons with larger or more colorful ones; or replace them with Velcro to make fastening easier. If your loved one struggles with coordination, consider purchasing clothing that is pre-adapted with magnetic or snap closures. Additionally, clothing with a more relaxed fit can be more comfortable and easier to put on.

Helping a loved one with dementia dress can be challenging, but with these practical tips, you can create a smoother and more dignified dressing experience. Remember, every individual is unique, so adapt these suggestions to meet your loved one’s specific needs. If you require further assistance or guidance in caring for a senior loved one with dementia, consider contacting Oasis Senior Advisors at 475.619.4123 or 914.356.1901.

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Paul and Susan Doyle

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