Getting Dressed With Success: 5 Tips for Caregivers

As Mom and Dad age, you may find that they have increased difficulty getting themselves dressed in the morning due to decreased dexterity, flexibility, standing balance, and more.

Here are 5 tips to help increase independence with dressing tasks so that your loved one can get dressed with success:

  1. Consider purchasing adaptive equipment - Reachers, dressing sticks, long handled shoe horns, button hooks, sock aids, the list goes on! There are many pieces of adaptive equipment out there designed to assist your loved one with getting dressed.

  2. Simplify outfits - Does Dad really need to wear the shirt with all the buttons? And Mom her most complicated bra? Encourage your loved one to pick articles of clothing that are easy to put on. Consider pants with elastic waist bands, pull over shirts and not button downs, easy pullover dresses/mumus, slip on or velco shoes. Consider forgoing socks, stockings, and brassieres all together when possible.

  3. Play it safe - Be sure your loved one is taking steps to prevent falls during dressing tasks. Have Dad sit in a chair as much as possible during his dressing routine, rather than risk his balance in standing. Keep clothing in easy to reach areas, NOT on the highest hanger deep in the depths of the closet. Have Mom make sure that she places clothing in a hamper or out of the way after undressing to avoid tripping over discarded clothes.

  4. Make modifications - Both to clothing and to the environment. For example, if Dad really likes his button down shirts but doesn’t have the dexterity to operate buttons, consider sewing in velcro and having faux buttons to make dressing easier. If Mom is having some trouble putting on her shoes but isn’t willing to give adaptive equipment a try, encourage her to sit on a low chair and rest her feet on a step stool in order to reach down to her feet.

  5. Ask for help - If your loved one is truly struggling with getting dressed regardless of modifications made, then it is time to get some help set up. Whether you are willing to do the job yourself or you have hired help come in, it is important that Mom or Dad’s needs are being met so that they can continue to age in place. We really encourage you to consider getting hired help rather than doing the job yourself in order to prevent caregiver burnout. Chances are if your loved one needs help with dressing, you are probably already helping them in many other areas and you do not need any more on your plate!

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