Dressing and Dementia

Dressing can be a point of contention between individuals living with dementia and their caregivers. A person’s self-esteem is often closely related to their physical appearance: people often want to look their best. However, there are a few factors why a person living with Alzheimer’s may have trouble with dressing.

For example, the individual may not remember the process of dressing or may become overwhelmed by the task. Alzheimer’s disease can make a once easy task frustrating and complicated for all involved.

There can be physical problems, as well. The person may have trouble balancing, or have issues with other motor skills such as zipping a jacket or buttoning a shirt. Some may not remember how to get dressed, how to put clothes on, or in what order they should get dressed.

Recognizing one’s own clothes can also be an issue, as well as forgetting the season or time of year. This might result in the person living with dementia to dress inappropriately for the weather.

Some environmental factors include whether the person would like privacy, if they are in a cold room, if the space they are in has poor lighting, or if there are loud noises that may confuse or overwhelm the individual.

In order to provide assistance to the person with dementia, it is important to simplify the person’s choices. Laying out the person’s clothes for them can sometimes make the process simpler. Giving the person the chance to pick out a favorite outfit or color can be helpful as well. Caregivers can also try substituting velcro for buttons or snaps and zippers, which might be difficult for the person to operate. It’s okay if clothing is mismatched or if the person wants to wear several layers. The most important thing is to make sure that the person is safe and comfortable.

carer and elderly lady
Make sure the person living with dementia has comfortable, non-slip shoes

For questions or assistance on how to effectively care for those living with dementia, call us at 800.272.3900 or visit us online at alz.org/dayton. 



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