Alzheimer's can turn even the simplest of tasks into great trials. In the middle and later stages of the disease, many people have difficulty dressing themselves. Here are a few pointers to help simplify the task of helping a person with Alzheimer's get dressed.
- Shop together. If at all possible you should take the person with Alzheimer's disease when you shop for their clothes. Letting them select some of their favorite items will make the new clothes seem familiar and they will be more likely to wear them.
- Buy duplicates. If your parent often insists on wearing that "favorite outfit" constantly, consider buying several identical sets.
- Look for simplicity. Choose clothing that is easy to get on and off. Elastic waists and Velcro enclosures minimize struggles with buttons and zippers.
- Give them choices. This can be tricky because a person with dementia can have trouble making decisions if there are too many options present. To avoid frustration and potential tantrums, give them a few choices, preferably no more than three. Lay out the clothes on a bed or dresser so the person with Alzheimer's can easily see them.
- Give them time. Depending on how advanced the person's dementia is, it may take longer than normal for them to select their outfit and dress themselves. Be patient, and schedule enough time so that delays in the dressing process don't interfere with other plans.
- Establish order. Arrange the clothes in the order they are to be put on to help the person move through the process.
- Be positive and open. Encouragement and compliments go a long way to helping a person with Alzheimer's disease feel content with their clothing choices. This includes supporting decisions that you may not necessarily agree with. As long as it doesn't endanger the elderly person, let them wear a dress to bed or a sweatshirt in warm weather.