Education and Care - Dressing

Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Getting dressed can pose a complicated series of challenges for individuals with dementia. Their need for assistance could range from having someone select outfits for them to physically dressing them from head to toe.

Possible problems:
  • Loss of communication skills and motor coordination makes the process difficult.
  • Too many choices of clothing can be confusing and frustrating.
  • Clothing may be difficult to put on or remove due to zippers, buttons, etc.
  • Encourage the individual to dress himself to whatever extent possible.
  • Intervene when attempts at self-dressing are not working.
  • Recognize the need for a sense of dignity.
  • Set a daily routine; try to have the individual get dressed at the same time each day.
  • Do not rush the process.
  • Give one-step instructions if the person needs prompting.
  • Limit the choice of outfits to two.
  • Clear closets and drawers of excess clothing to reduce confusion.
  • Provide loose-fitting, comfortable clothes with elastic waistbands.
  • Lay out the articles of clothing in the order they are to be put on.
  • Use a consistent method of helping the individual dress each day. For example, first dress their upper body and then the lower body. If the individual can still dress himself, hand him one article of clothing at a time in the same order each day.
  • Use gestures to show the individual what to do.
  • Do not argue if they want to repeat the same outfit.

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