Dealing with dementia patients isn’t an easy task, with one of the most difficult areas in taking care of them is supporting them to get dressed. Dressing independently is sometimes just impossible for them to do.
Because dressing them touches a number of different areas such as their safety, hygiene, and social appropriateness, supporting people with dementia to dress can often be a ‘hidden’ challenge that doesn’t get the support it deserves.
So, what can you do about it? Well, that’s what this article is about. Read on to know the right way of helping dementia patients dress up.
1. Plan It Out
The first thing you need to do is to plan what you want them to wear. This avoids the pressure-filled feeling of picking their clothes out of their wardrobe in the morning. Hang them on a hanger the night before, so you know what to put on them the next day. Make sure that buttons and zippers are already undone, and they’re not inside out.
According to Jane Byrne from FirstCare.ie, “5% to 8% of adults who are over the age of 65-years-old have dementia. Unfortunately, this figure doubles every five years.”
2. Make It Appropriate With The Weather
People with dementia are mostly seniors, which is why they need an extra layer of clothing when it’s cold outside. See to it that they’re comfortable in the sense that they won’t feel too cold or too hot. If it’s the winter months, go for vests that have front buttons so that they can easily be worn. On the other hand, if it’s summer, let them wear tops that are breathable, specifically those that have thin fabric.
3. Let Them Choose
When it comes to supporting someone to get dressed, dignity and choice are of paramount importance. It doesn’t mean that you have free reign over their lives. Yes, they might have dementia, and they are unable to do tasks normally and decide on things properly. But it’ll help them a lot if you give them a feeling of independence, even just a tiny bit.
Let them choose the clothes that they’d want to wear as this keeps their mind running and can help slow down the progression of the disease. Labeling drawers is also a great way to help them find the clothes they’d want to wear.
4. Guide Them
If ever the dementia patient lacks the confidence to dress themselves or just needs a bit of direction, then feel free to offer them some friendly guidance. Give verbal cues if needed. An example would be to tell them to put their shirt on first, then followed by their trousers.
You can also point to certain areas to tell them where they can wear their shirt or shorts.
5. Stay Calm And Patient
Dementia patients have a hard time doing things on their own, which is why it’s important always to remain patient. Don’t expect too much from them because they’re most likely to fail with their first few tries.
Also, it’s common for them to have a hard time dressing up because they either don’t want to get out of their clothes, or they find it difficult to move. Just keep motivating them to try. Don’t show any signs of frustration. Instead, be positive with whatever they do, whether they’re doing it right or wrong. Just don’t forget to correct them afterward.
Dementia has no cure. In fact, it gets worse through time. However, this doesn’t mean that you can do nothing about it. Following the tips mentioned can somehow slow down the progression of the disease, and might even improve their well being. Just be sure always to remain consistent and patient.