Avoiding the "War of the Wardrobe"
May 8, 2017
Does your loved one have dementia are wears mismatched or inappropriate clothing? If so, it’s time to step in. They have likely lost awareness of their personal appearance. The awareness of need for a sweater in the cold or a lighter shirt in the heat is also gone.
Allow your relative to continue dressing independently and make their own clothing choices as much as possible. This activity is good for brain stimulation and supports their sense of personal dignity.
To avoid conflict over clothes, here are some tips:
• Simplify choices. Hang some of their favorite outfits together in the closet: shirt, pants and accessories, all on the same hanger. If your relative has a preferred outfit, buy several of them! Then they can wear that beloved shirt every day and still be clean. At day’s end, when your relative is not looking, put the soiled clothes in the laundry.
• Winnow the wardrobe. When your loved one is not around, go through their closets and dressers to eliminate excess clothing. Only keep what is easy for him or her to put on and take off. For example, pants with elastic waistbands, shirts and dresses that open in the front, and shoes that with Velcro. Remove clothing that no longer fits.
• Stash special occasion clothes. Store these clothes in a separate place. You don’t want your loved one to put on her fancy dress to come to breakfast.
• Consider the weather. Pack away clothing that is not season appropriate so your loved one has only the right choices for the season.
• Establish a routine. Establish a regular time of day for dressing. If you are laying out your relative’s clothes, align them in the order they should be used (undergarments on top, pants/skirts on the bottom). Hide shoes until last.
• Reduce rushing. Allow for extra time. Being hurried can lead to confusion and potential resistance to getting dressed.