Clothing Choices That Work

February 17, 2011

As a person with dementia loses their mental faculties and motor skills, he will have more and more problems dealing with things like buttons, zippers, snaps, and other common clothing fasteners.  I covered clothing choices as they relate to visual issues in the last blog, but now I want to cover clothing choices that will make your life easier as a caregiver and hopefully, keep your loved one more independent.

What I’m addressing now is not applicable to those people who are always trying to take their clothing off.  I’m writing to the people whose loved ones could dress themselves, at least with help, if not for the difficulty with fastenings.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Choose velcro fastened or slip-on shoes.  Tying shoe strings is difficult for older hands, even in those without dementia.
  2. Clogs or other backless shoes are not a good choice.  They may be comfortable, but your loved one needs the extra support of a shoe back.
  3. For ladies, no high (or even moderate-sized) heels.
  4. Change to pants and skirts that have elastic waists.  Many issues with incontinence arise because the person simply can’t work their clothing.
  5. Pullover shirts work well, unless your loved one has trouble putting her hands over her head.  If that is the case, you may need to help with the buttons.
  6. Layered clothing is a good choice.  Elderly people, especially those taking blood thinners, are often cold.
  7. Choose clothing that needs little care.  Wash and wear needs to be your mantra.  Caregiving is difficult enough without adding ironing and dry cleaning to the list of things to do.

If your loved one constantly wants to take clothing off, google the “Alzheimer’s Apron,” available from several places on the internet, which has buttons, zippers, snaps, etc. across the front, but those with dementia can’t remove it.  The apron keeps them from removing their clothes.

What clothing choices have worked for you?  Please post comments!

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