You already know Alzheimer’s and dementia affects memory. As the disease progresses even simple tasks, like dressing and showering, become more difficult for the person to complete on their own. It may begin with the inability to button a shirt and eventually lead to the person forgetting to change clothes all together or not remembering how to use a hairbrush. Over time dressing and bathing become the responsibility of the caregiver.
Caring for someone in cognitive decline is never easy. Add dressing and bathing to the list and many caregivers find it too much to handle.
Just as Alzheimer’s affects memory, it also affects behavior. Someone with Alzheimer’s may become agitated, angry, stubborn and difficult to communicate with. Yes, this might mean that mom insists on wearing the same pants she’s worn for 3 days and adamant she doesn’t want to have her teeth brushed.
While each day will have different challenges, there are some tips to make dressing and grooming easier to manage. Staying flexible, eliminating choices that aren’t appropriate for the season (taking away winter coats during the summer for example), sticking to a routine or providing duplicates of favorite items.
This chart from the Alzheimer’s association offers their top tips for caregivers. Consider printing this chart and posting in a convenient place as a reminder, or to guide other family members who come to visit or provide occasional help.
One last tip – don’t forget to have a sense of humor. While Alzheimer’s and dementia are serious, as a caregiver, there are times you have to see the humor in the situation. It can lighten the mood and calm a stressful situation, for both you and your loved one.
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