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4 Easy Things to Remember when Helping the Alzheimer’s Patient get Dressed

Posted Jan 15 2011 12:29am
  • Don’t Rush them. Keep things calm. The less stress the better.

If you’re in a hurry and issue a long list of things they need to do; change your shirt, put on clean socks, be certain to get your best shoes, the patient will have forgotten the instructions by the time you’ve finished speaking.  Or, if you give a general order without specifics: “You need to get dressed this morning,” a middle stage Alzheimer’s patient may have no idea what you want him to do.

  • Use short, simple sentences and allow the patient time to respond.

Speaking slowly, suggest one article of clothing at a time. A task that seems simple to you can be quite complicated for the person with dementia. If the patients response seems slow, do not rush to take over the task and dress him yourself. This will only embarrass the patient and make him feel like a child. Allow the patient time to think about your words and then respond.

  • Offer assistance if it appears they do not remember how to complete the task.

It is not unusual for middle stage Alzheimer’s patients to forget how to fasten a button, close a zipper, etc. If their response to your order is a look of confusion, you might expect that they’ve forgotten how to complete the task. Don’t insist that they remember, “You remember how to do it, you did it before……..” In all likelihood they don’t remember. And saying they Should remember only serves to make the patient feel inadequate and agitated.

  • Purchase easy to manage clothing.

Velcro closures are better than shoe strings, snaps, buttons, and even zippers. You can substitute velcro for almost any fastener. Purchase clothing that closes in the front, buy  pull-on pants and shirts. Purchase slip-on shoes or those with velcro closures. Trying to tie a shoe can be a daunting task for someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

Remember that Alzheimer’s and Dementia is a progressive disease; they may be able to button their shirt today, but not tomorrow. Try to be kind and generous with your time. I remember that it isn’t always easy to be even tempered. Helping my mom get dressed was one of the most frustrating things we did all day. And, I must admit–I allowed her to wear the same clothing for a couple days more than once. Sometimes you have to “choose your battles.” If Mom and I were both out of patience–changing clothes could wait for another day.

Be good to your patient–and be good to yourself, too

Below are just a few of the large variety of shoes you can find with velcro closures or slip-on style. Everything from house-shoes to dress shoes can be found with convenient closures that the Alzheimer’s patient can operate. You can also see from these samples that slip-on or velcro closures can be nice, comfy and even dressy without shoe laces.

Endless carries inexpensive shoes or “Brand Name” for both men and women, and if you add “slip-on” or “velcro closure” when you do a search at their site, you will find the exact shoes you need.

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