top

Helping Persons with Dementia to Get Dressed

Did you know?

Pictures of what is inside closets and drawers placed on the outside provides your loved ones with a visual reminder of what is inside that can help them when they are looking for their clothing.

Video

Watch a video that describes how to help a person with dementia dress (3 minutes 30 seconds long).

As an individual’s dementia progresses, dressing and grooming can become more and more challenging. The person may wear inappropriate clothing, such as a sweater in the summer, or he or she may wear clothing inappropriately, such as wearing a shirt backwards. Eventually, your loved one may not know when to change clothes. You may also hear comments such as, "Which drawer are my socks in?" or "Where are my shoes?" as it becomes harder to find clothing.

Suggestions for Caregivers

By encouraging and complimenting your loved ones in their efforts to dress and groom, you can help them to continue with the daily ritual of dressing and boost their esteem and mood at the same time. There is no need for your loved ones to mope around the house all day in bedclothes.

Try:

  • Simple and comfortable clothing.
  • Clothing with elastic or velcro fasteners.
  • Shoes with non-slip soles that are easy to put on.

Avoid:

  • Clothing with buttons, clasps, laces, or snaps as fasteners.
  • Accessories, such as belts, jewelry, ties, and scarves.
  • Don’t just let your loved one stay in their PJs all day.

Use Organization to Support You and Your Loved One

  • Clean out closets and dressers

    Avoid having too many choices of jackets, shoes, ties, or other clothing items. By reducing the amount of clutter and clothing, your loved one will be less confused when trying to pick out something to wear. Also, consider removing out-of-season clothing to simplify decisions and prevent him or her from wearing inappropriate clothing.

  • Lay out clothes for each day

    Laying out clothing choices for your loved one allows him or her to remain in control of the dressing process and it also simplifies the decision process. It may help to label each item as well – for instance, you can put a note on top of the pajamas that says "pajamas, put these on after dinner when it gets dark outside". Eventually, you may need to hand each item of clothing to your loved one and prompt him or her as to what needs to be done to put it on.

Late Stages of Dementia

With more advanced dementia, you may have to physically dress your loved one. As with other activities, remember to describe to them what you are doing and cue them as to what you want them to do. However, caregivers find that it is still worthwhile to allow your loved one to maintain some sort of choice in clothing. By presenting them with a couple of options to wear for their tops and their pants, you allow them to choose their outfit. If you find that your loved one wants to wear the same outfit all the time, consider buying duplicate outfits or at least similar ones.

Resources

About Dementia: Dressing

Source: Alzheimer's Society (United Kingdom)
Description: This web page gives practical advice on how to help a person with dementia get dressed. It also lists products that may help make getting dressed easier, such as Velcro and slip-on shoes.

Rate, comment or learn more about this resource

Dressing and Grooming

Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: This web page gives advice on how you can assist your loved one with dressing routines, including simplifying choices, substituting Velcro for more complicated buttons and snaps, providing direction, and buying duplicate outfits if your loved one insists on wearing the same outfit all the time.

Rate, comment or learn more about this resource

Fact Sheet: Dressing

Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: This printable handout offers tips for ways that you can help your loved one with dressing, both by simplifying the process and working with him or her.

Rate, comment or learn more about this resource