My 83 yr old mom survived a major brain bleed 5 years ago, she recovered 100% physically but over the last two years she has mentally degrade. She now resides in a memory credit unit in a supported living facility as I could no longer care for her myself. What I do not understand is the fact that she used to be great at picking out what clothes to wear an now she wears day clothes over pajamas and sometimes 3 pairs of slacks and a couple blouses all inside out and backwards. Also, she wears depends and can no longer put them on correctly. She puts her whole body thru a leg hole and rips off numerous pairs a day because they do not fit right. I have learned that I cannot research her how to dress and the staff and myself have to deal with it. I guess I need to know if this is part of dementia and if not do I discuss with her Dr. I appreciate any help as I need to understand this more than I do. I am trying to learn and pray for the patience to deal with this as I am trying not to upset her. Thank you for any assistance.

I can definitely relate! Jim puts his clothes on backwards, inside out, and sometimes he will put on layers that don’t make sense. It is part of the disease taking over their brain function. Your mom can no longer decipher what is correct or not for dressing and probably doesn’t even care. I am sure it is hard to watch her like this since she was probably a sharp dresser before and took a lot of pride in her appearance. I would still discuss her new stage with her doctor when you visit next. It is always good to keep them up to date on the progression of the disease.

In the meantime, if at all possible, try to make a game out of the process of getting dressed or find a way to see the humor. I know that can seem impossible, but it can make a huge difference in your outlook, your day, and ultimately your relationship with her and her caregivers in the memory unit. Stay strong and be kind to yourself. She is so lucky to have you there helping her.

9 thoughts on “My mother can no longer dress herself

  • Joanne

    We had the same issues with my mother inlaw she would double up on all her clothes and it drove me crazy I ended up moving her clothes to a spare room and laying an outfit each night for her to wear until one morning I looked up at the top of the stairs and there she stood with a pair of my husbands pants and shirt, socks the whole nine yards I had such a chuckle she even had the legs rolled up because they were to long it was priceless after that I thought what is the point as long as she is dressed and happy so be it. have a sense of humor it helps.

  • greta

    A sense of humor is essential! Accepting what you cannot change is essential too. This morning isn’t too bad; Mom has a nice comfy fleecy sweater, tights (no pants) and sneakers on. She’s happy. When she dresses herself, her closet is like a teenager’s…sweaters off hangers, robe stuffed in a basket, pants hanging onto their hangers by a leg, several pairs of underwear in different spots, drawers torn apart! Oh, well, next week it’ll be different, I’m sure. That’s the only thing you can depend on! Good luck.

  • sharon collins

    If your Mom is in a facility, can the staff not dress her each morning and for bed in the evening? My Dad got so very stressed at his inability to do some things and it was upsetting for both of us. I accepted that dressing correctly was a task he was no longer able to perform so got him help. He then looked nice, which I expect would matter to your Mom and he wasn’t frustrated or humiliated. I found that helping my Dad to retain some dignity was way more important that what he could or could not do. I hope you find a solution that works for you both. Kudos for caring.

  • Susan

    One Sunday, we were getting ready for church. I set Mom’s clothes out on her bed. When she had finished dressing, I noticed she didn’t have the turtleneck under her sweater. She had no idea what I was talking about, so I searched and searched for it in her room to no avail. As I was helping her with her socks, I saw that she had put the turtleneck on as pants – the arms were on her legs. I was so frustrated – and sorry to say I yelled at her. So my advice is DO NOT YELL or get angry. It just confuses them more. I wish I had realized this sooner.

  • Patti Davis

    This makes me laugh every time I think about it. When my mom got to the point that she could no longer dress herself, my dad stepped in and would dress her. One Sunday, he didn’t have the time, so I had to help get her dressed. I had a tough time getting her bosoms into her bra and accidentally pinched her with my nails in doing so! At least she laughed with me! It definitely helps to have a sense of humor!

  • Yvonne Burkee

    Every morning, while my mother-in-law is having her coffee, I go into her bedroom and make her bed and then lay out her clothes for the day; underclothes, pants, shirt, shoes & socks. We then go into the bathroom together to wash up and brush teeth and then proceed to her bedroom. She is always amazed that someone has gotten her clothes ready for her. I then sit in a chair and coach her on what to do. I’m there if she needs help (and there are days she does) but we just go through everything step-by-step. She always feels accomplished that “she did it!”

  • Toni

    My mother has also reached this stage of dementia. My father or one of us, her daughters, dress her every day, assist her in bathroom, give her pills, and most of her daily routine that she used to be able to do herself. This responsibility mostly falls on my father. Such a horrible disease!

  • Peggy

    I’m an aide to a 94 year old woman. She use to be able to dress herself and accomplish personal things. Now she needs help in every direction. She has bad days but how can you not love someone who has acted badly and then looks at you and says “I don’t know what makes me do these things” with a look of bewilderment in her eyes. Love them for who they are now and remember who they use to be.

  • Mary Lou

    I guess I’m lucky, in that we do not have very many visitors. So dressing Mom, who has moderate Alzheimer’s, crippling arthritis and is wheelchair bound makes it easy to dress her in a pull-on shirt. She is incontinent so she wears adult diapers (Underwear is what we call them). And we use the baby receiving blankets to cover her up. Wearing pants would make it difficult to change her underwear, so when she goes out she wears skirts. Her feet get cold so she wears her pink fluffy slippers. We dread the day that she will no longer be able to get up to be changed.

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