Simplifying Your Loved One's Clothing
The nurse’s aide in the secure unit was not a happy camper. She came over to me and said I needed to reinforce to Mom that when she needed to use the bathroom, she should use the toilet, instead of her bed. She noted that once Mom started becoming incontinent, it was a difficult habit to break. I vowed to do what I could in the limited time I visited Mom daily.
Later that afternoon, I asked Mom if she needed to use the restroom. She said she did and started to urinate in the bed. I told her to wait and helped her to her feet; we walked to the bathroom and I soon realized what one of the problems was: the drawstring on her pants had become knotted. My mom – the expert sewer who also did a lot of embroidery in her day – could no longer figure out how to untie a knot.
Later that day, I stopped one of the aides and the nurse who was on duty and explained the situation. I asked them to encourage Mom to only wear pants that have elasticized waists without a drawstring. That one small clothing change helped to make a difference in Mom’s bathroom habits.
Clothing is one of those things that we rarely think in depth about. However, clothing can be a nightmare for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease. Buttons, shoelaces, and ties all become difficult mind-benders for your loved one to negotiate. So you need to think carefully about what clothes you provide as choices.
I’ve noticed that many of the residents in the secure unit wear slip-on shoes or shoes with Velcro closures. The residents tend to wear clothing items that do not have complex closures. Simple clothing is a necessity for ensuring that loved ones are comfortable and safe as they progress through the complex issues created by the disease.
To learn more about caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's Disease, visit our Caregiver Center.
Published On: June 09, 2006