In this article, to continue with the topic of hygiene and dementia we will discuss tips for getting dressed. Just as with bathing (discussed in the previous article), this particular task can pose a lot of frustration among caregivers.

Imagine being the person with dementia who is presented with a closet full of clothes to choose from. They are immediately confused. The number of choices is overwhelming. They may be wondering, “Why do I need to get dressed?”

There are several ways to approach getting dressed with a person suffering from dementia. Most importantly, do not offer several choices. It is too confusing. Just pick one outfit and lay it out on the bed. If there is one outfit they insist on wearing repeatedly simply buy several pairs of the same pants or shirt. Therefore, even if one pair of pants is dirty they can still wear a clean pair that looks exactly the same.

If the person with dementia does not want to get dressed, try again in 15-20 minutes instead of insisting they do so right away. When they agree, do not rush the process. Grooming can also present challenges. They may forget how to brush their hair. In this case, the caregiver can lead by example brushing their hair first.

If they are having a day where they are more confused than usual and want to wear their clothes to bed, this is okay! Remember to pick your battles. The Alzheimer’s Association also offers many helpful suggestions related to this topic.

Roslyn Paine, MSW, LSW
DignityFirst Health at Home Care Manager