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How to help a loved one with dementia get dressed

As dementia progresses, your loved one may no longer be able to dress themselves and rely on the involvement of a carer to help. Here are tips to help a person with dementia get dressed independently.

Problems dressing with dementia

In the early stages of dementia, your loved one may experience more mild issues, like choosing mismatched clothing. As dementia progresses, there is typically a loss of ability to physically dress oneself or choose their clothing.

Those with dementia may find dressing a challenge because they:

  • Have difficulty managing buttons and zippers

  • May not remember the last time they changed clothes

  • Confuse items of clothing; eg mistaking a t-shirt for a jumper

  • Forget the sequence of steps to get dressed in the right order

  • May not have the energy to get dressed and undressed

  • Have difficulty recognising or coordinating parts of their body

  • May be determined to wear the same outfit every day

  • Can layer several garments on top of one another (that aren’t intended to be layered)

Tips for dressing with dementia

Choose clothing that is easy to take on and off

A client's blouse customised by our team at Adaptive Clothing Australia

Clothing that is easy to remove and put on makes the dressing process easier for those with dementia and facilitates independence.

Garments with Velcro™, snap, magnet or tie closures as an alternative to buttons and zips. Adaptive Clothing Australia specialises in adapting existing garments with tie, Velcro™, snap and magnet closures to accommodate the dressing limitations of seniors with dementia. You can view examples of our work here.

Shirts, blouses and pyjamas that open at the back take the frustration out of dressing - such as the Petal Back range

Take time to organise drawers and closets

Simplify dressing decisions by only keeping limited clothing in a drawer. Remove garments out of season or rarely worn.

Label drawers with the items they contain so it is easier for your loved one to find what she is looking for. You can use a combination of words and pictures to further simplify the process.

Group clothes and accessories that are to be worn together. For example hang coordinating pants, shirt, and sweater together on a hanger.

Keep the dressing space as clutter-free as possible.

Buy several sets of identical clothing

Those with dementia often want to wear the same outfit over and over. Trying to convince them otherwise can cause anxiety and stress.

By purchasing more than one of each item, one set of the outfit can be worn while the other is in the wash. This allows your loved one to wear the “same” outfit each day and ease anxiety.

Install bright lighting

Dimly lit rooms make it more difficult to find clothes so make sure there is enough lighting in the room.

Keeping those with dementia warm is also important. Try to make sure their dressing area or bedroom is kept warm.

Tips at dressing time

When it’s time to get dressed, let your loved one dress themselves as much as possible. This encourages a feeling of independence and accomplishment.

Layer clothing

A helpful tip is to layer clothing on the bed in the order it will be put on. This simplifies the step-by-step process and minimises confusion about what item to put on next.

Plan to take it slow

Allowing for enough time to get ready at a slow, steady pace will make it a more relaxing experience for you and your loved one. Trying to rush them will only increase anxiety.

We hope these tips help relieve some of the stress that can accompany dressing with dementia.

If you have any questions about how our team can help with adapted clothing, please reach out to us. We’re here to help and care deeply about our client’s needs.

Email us at or call us at 0447 733 321 or 07 3410 8788


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