Here are some tips to think about dressing if it is becoming a problem: 

  • Promote choice:  It is important to ensure that the person you care for has choice in what they wear, but too many options can be confusing. Ask them what they would like to wear and make suggestions one garment at a time. 
  • Encourage independence: Lay clothes out in the order they are to be put on.  You may need to sensitively remind the person you care for which garment comes next, or you may need to hand them items in the order they require them.  If the person is confused, give instructions in very short steps, for example ‘Now put your arm through the sleeve.’. It may help to use actions to demonstrate these instructions. 
  • Staying comfortable: Make sure the room is warm enough to get dressed in and remember that the person you care for may no longer be able to tell you if they are too hot or too cold, so look out for signs they may be uncomfortable. It can be useful if the person you care for wears several layers of of thin clothing rather than one thick layer, as they can then easily remove a layer if it gets too warm. 
  • Think about privacy: Make sure that blinds or curtains are closed so no one can see through from the street and that no one will walk in and disturb the person while they are dressing. 
  • Change clothes regularly: Sometimes people with dementia are reluctant to undress, or will refuse to change their clothes, even when they go to bed.  It is important to make sure that the person you care for changes their clothes every day. 
  • Make dressing a positive experience: Helping a person with dementia look the way they would like to look is an important way of maintaining their confidence and will encourage them to take pride in their appearance. 
  • Allow enough time: If you are helping someone with dementia to dress, allow plenty of time so that neither of you feels rushed.  The person you care for may take longer to process information than they used to and this will affect their ability to make choices. If you can make dressing an enjoyable activity, the person you care for will feel more relaxed and confident. 

Published: 2nd September 2016