Posted on January 22, 2009 - by Nurse Virginia
CAREGIVER TIPS: Confused elder with Alzheimer’s Disease, wants to wear the same clothes all the time.
Can’t get confused elder to change clothes.
Many times I have heard family caregivers say that one of the hardest tasks is to get the individual who is confused to change clothes. Sometimes the favorite outfit is also used to sleep in. Recently a man was telling me about his wife’s favorite outfit and how he had tried to get her to change for a holiday dinner in a restaurant they were invited to. He turned and said “Here she is now.” To my surprise came a very cheerful woman in her woman in her late 70′s with dyed red hair in a purple sweat suit. This was the favorite outfit that was worn every day, every season.
Clothing helps confused elder feel put together.
Our clothing has many meanings for us socially. Many confused elderly have a sense of security when they are dressed. As though if they are dressed they may feel more put together and in control mentally as well. And so they resist changing, bathing, getting in pajamas, anything that might not let them feel as put together.
9 Things to do when dressing is an issue for confused elder:
• Remove all out of season clothes and store.
• Have limited selection of outfits, so closet doesn’t seem overwhelming.
• Have clothes that reflect the individual’s life long choices in style and color, but are now in fabrics that are wrinkle free and easy to maintain.
• Everything needs to be washable and mainly cotton, which doesn’t hold on to odors like other man made fabrics.
• When there is a favorite coat – outfit it helps to have a matching one to substitute while the other is being cleaned.
• Simplify dressing whenever possible with Velcro closures when a person can no longer manage buttons – if dressing is just too hard and too much trouble why bother anymore, the person might think.
• Brassieres that open in front may be easier to manage.
• Elastic shoe laces can assist in allowing shoes to remain tied and yet be slipped on.
• Front opening clothing is easier than over the head styles. Likewise short sleeves are easier to get on than long sleeves.
Dressing can be an opportunity for success for confused elder.
Be aware that every activity – especially dressing is made up of many small steps. Completing every step is an opportunity for success and a feeling of accomplishment. Keep in mind that less is more when it comes to talking and instruction. Patience, being in the moment, praise and acceptance go a long way.
See: Caregiver Tips: Working with Elders with Alzheimer’s disease using their Body Memory
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