Caregiving 101: How Dementia Impacts Senior Personal Care Needs


Posted on November 18th, by Mark Winter in Alzheimer's, Caregiver Support Tip, Dementia, Family Caregivers, Health. No Comments

Caregiving 101: How Dementia Impacts Senior Personal Care Needs
family caregiver helping senior button up sweater

Senior personal care needs, like dressing, can become a struggle with dementia.

Being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or any other kind of dementia requires empathy, creativity, and patience, the capacity to step away from your individual reasoning and logic and realize why a specific behavior is occurring, and then to understand just how to effectively manage it. That is certainly the case with senior personal care needs, such as a loved one who won’t change his/her clothing, in spite of how dirty or unkempt an outfit has become.

There are several reasons why a senior with Alzheimer’s disease may insist upon wearing the same outfit, including:

  • Memory or judgment problems, including losing track of time or thinking the clothes were recently changed
  • The comfort and familiarity of a particular piece of clothing
  • A need to maintain control
  • Struggles with the task of changing clothes
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the choices involved with selecting an outfit
  • Fatigue and/or physical pain
  • The inability to identify scent or even to clearly see stains on clothes

Our Alzheimer’s care team has some recommendations to assist:

  1. Most importantly, do not argue or attempt to reason with someone with dementia.
  2. Purchase extra clothing that is identical to the one the senior insists on wearing.
  3. When the senior is bathing or asleep, take away the dirty clothing from the room and replace with clean items.
  4. Make getting dressed as simple as possible, with only a few choices that are uncomplicated to put on and take off, and allowing as much time as necessary for dressing.
  5. Provide clothing options in solid colors instead of patterns, which can be confusing, distracting, or visually overstimulating.
  6. Take into account any timing issues: is the senior extremely tired and/or upset at a specific time of day? In that case, try incorporating dressing into the time of day when she or he typically feels the most content and calm.
  7. Determine if your own feelings are exacerbating the situation in any way. For instance, is it a matter of embarrassment that’s driving the demand for your loved one to clothe himself/herself in a particular way?

Keep in mind that wearing a comfortable outfit for an added day may be preferred as opposed to the emotional battle involved in forcing a change of clothing. When it truly becomes a concern, however, give us a call! Sometimes, an older adult feels more comfortable being assisted with personal care needs such as bathing and dressing by a professional in-home caregiver instead of a family member. Hired Hands Homecare’s care experts are experienced and skilled in helping those with Alzheimer’s disease maintain personal hygiene with kindness and compassion, and they are always here to help.

Reach out to us online or at (866) 940-4343 for additional helpful suggestions or to set up an in-home consultation to learn more about our top-rated home care assistance in Petaluma or the surrounding areas.





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