Dressing and Grooming – Best Practices & Tips

Persons with dementia face a lot of challenges one of them being dressing and grooming.

In addition to causing memory problems and confusion, dementia also affects a person’s physical functioning, which makes it challenging to handle tasks like maintaining appearance and dressing up.

As the disease progresses, it may reach a point where caregivers must step in and help individuals with the illness wear proper clothes, look, and smell pleasant.

Because this is a sensitive and private matter, you must be very tactful when you are offering a hand so that the person you are helping does not feel like you are belittling them.

To help caregivers on this front, here are a few tips you can use when looking for the best ways to assist the ill person with grooming.

Best Dressing and Grooming Practices & Tips

Encourage Independence

encourage independence with dressing and grooming of dementia patients
It can be embarrassing for seniors to have other people dress them.

If an individual still has the strength and ability to wear clothes on their own, it is best to let them, so they can remain as independent as possible for longer.

You should only be in the room if it is necessary.

Remember to ensure as much privacy as possible. Some of the tips you can work with to encourage independence while dressing include:

  • Laying out clothes in the order that they are worn. Start with underwear, then pants or a dress, and a cardigan if it is not hot. Ensure that the items are not inside out. (If you are in the room, you can give the person one item to wear at a time).
  • Undo all buttons, and zips, etc. to ease the burden of putting on outfits.
  • If a person wants to wear the same clothes day in day out, get four or more sets so that they do not put on dirty clothes.
  • Get comfortable and loose-fitting clothing. Attires need to be easy to take off and put on. The material should be soft and not binding so that the wearer can move with ease.
  • Labels closets and other places the elderly put clothing items and accessories to guide them on where they can find their things with ease. You can use a combination of pictures and words as these tend to be more effective.

Offer Choices

with dementia offer choices of dressing and grooming
Even though a person has dementia, it is important that they retain the dignity of choosing what to wear for as long as they can.

They need to express their own style and identity.

Because picking out clothes might be a challenging task you have to ensure that what they put on is clean, comfortable, and suitable for the current weather conditions.

You can do this by picking out two outfits so that the weak individual can choose the one they like best.

Instead of laying all the options out, you can ask the person simple questions like, “Will you wear the blue or red t-shirt?”

Wait patiently as they make a decision.

You must respect their decisions even when they make some unusual clothing choices as long as it will put them in harm’s way.

For example, if the person insists on sleeping with a hat on just agree instead of being confrontational.

Cleaning out the closet and retaining only the necessary items is a move that comes highly recommended.

Allow Enough Time for Grooming

allow enough time for grooming
Remember to offer persons with dementia adequate time when putting on clothes and getting their looks together.

You can offer step by step instructions with gestures if you notice that the person is getting stuck somewhere.

For instance, when fumbling to get an arm in the sleeve you can show them how to do it in a polite and kind manner.

Do not make a big deal of things like mismatching clothing items.

Instead, focus on the fact that the person was able to dress. You must also be very careful when correcting mistakes for example when a person puts both feet on one side of the pants.

Don’t shout at the person that they are wrong.

Depending on the mood, you can find a way that both of you can laugh about it as they put on the attire correctly.

Keep Routines as Long as Possible

keep routines as long as possible with dementia
Where possible, ensure you continue using the products that the person loved utilizing before they needed help with grooming.

Purchase the toiletries they prefer and keep up routines. For example, if the lady loved going to the hair salon, book appointments and ensure they go on a regular basis as long as possible.

While here, they can get relaxing manicures and pedicures as they get their hair done. When caring for a man, you can encourage shaving.

If going to the salon proves to be difficult, you can always organize home visits from professionals.

Prioritize on Safety

prioritize on safety
Putting safety first is non-negotiable when offering a hand with dressing and grooming.

When choosing footwear always go for a pair that is comfortable, well-fitting and has non-slip soles.

You are also responsible for making safer choices. For instance, if you are helping an individual to file their nails, avoid a metal file and use a cardboard one.

Using an electric razor for shaving can enhance safety.

You should also remember to keep an eye for discomfort signs especially when the suffering person cannot tell if they are too hot or too cold.

Carry out Some Activities Together

carry out some activities together
Another way you can help with grooming is by doing some things together. For instance, when it is time to brush teeth, you can do it while guiding the ill individual on how to properly brush their teeth.

You can assist with cleaning dentures to ensure that the person with dementia using cleaning material properly.

Closing Thoughts

Not being able to handle tasks such as dressing and grooming can be frustrating for a person with dementia.

Don’t just leave them to wallow in sorrow when it comes to taking care of their looks.

Offer the ill person the assistance they need in a respectful, fun, and tactful manner so that they are always presentable and comfortable.

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