October 14, 2020 by Dean Bellefeuille

Dealing with Dementia

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia requires creativity, patience, and empathy, being able to step away from your individual logic and reasoning and realize why a specific behavior is occurring, and then to know just how to effectively deal with dementia behaviors. That is certainly the case with an older adult who will not change his or her clothing, no matter how dirty or unkempt an outfit has become.

There are numerous explanations why someone with dementia may insist upon wearing the exact same outfit, including:

  • Memory or judgment problems, such as losing track of time or thinking the clothes were just recently changed
  • The comfort and familiarity of a specific item of clothing
  • A need to maintain control
  • Difficulty with the task of changing clothes
  • Feeling stressed from the choices associated with selecting an outfit
  • Fatigue and/or physical pain
  • The inability to identify scent or to clearly see stains on clothes

Our dementia care team has some suggestions to help:

  1. Most importantly, don’t ever argue or try to reason with someone with Alzheimer’s.
  2. Purchase extra clothing that is exactly the same as the outfit your loved one insists on wearing.
  3. When the senior is bathing or sleeping, remove the soiled clothing from the room and replace with clean items.
  4. Make getting dressed as easy as possible, with just a couple of choices that are easy to put on and take off, and permitting as much time as necessary for dressing.
  5. Offer clothing options in solid colors in place of patterns, which may be confusing, distracting, or visually overstimulating.
  6. Consider any timing issues: Is the older adult extremely tired and/or upset at a certain time of day? In that case, try incorporating dressing into the time of day when he or she usually feels the most calm and content.
  7. Decide if your own feelings are exacerbating the problem in any respect. For instance, is it a question of embarrassment that is driving the need for your loved one to dress in a specific way?

Understand that wearing a comfortable outfit for an added day may be preferred as opposed to the emotional battle involved with forcing a change of clothing. If it truly becomes a challenge, however, give us a call! Sometimes, a senior feels more comfortable being assisted with care needs such as dressing by a professional in-home caregiver rather than a family member. At Home Independent Living’s care experts are experienced and skilled in helping those with dementia maintain personal hygiene with kindness and compassion, and they are always available to help.

Contact At Home Independent Living, the top independent living care agency, at (315) 579-HOME (4663) for additional helpful suggestions or to arrange an in-home consultation. View our full service area.