Helping Seniors Get Dressed While Preserving Their Independence

November 3, 2023

Getting dressed every morning is something that we all do, but for some, it requires a bit of extra assistance. When an older adult has less mobility and less control over their fine motor movements, getting dressed can be a stressful, sometimes dangerous task. To lessen the risks, caregivers can step in and provide assistance to older adults with getting dressed for the day. About 36 million older adults fall annually, resulting in 32,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and getting dressed alone without assistance can lead to an unsafe situation, including dangerous falls.

Retain Independence

There is a level of vulnerability associated with getting dressed. To preserve as much dignity and independence for the older adult as possible, you will want to allow them to do as much as they are safely able to, including making decisions as to what they want to wear. To make this decision easier, it helps to limit the options by placing 2-3 different shirts, pants, and jackets out and allowing them to choose from this selection, instead of allowing them to choose from a closet full of clothes. This will save time, as well as eliminate any anxiety around decision making. This is especially important for those with memory and cognition difficulties.

Alternative Choices

The clothing that is offered can make or break this experience. Clothing that is easy to put on and take off is preferable to complicated clothing, like shirts with many buttons, zippers or ties. Instead, opt for pull over shirts versus button ups, try pull-up drawstring pants versus pants with a button and zipper, lastly velcro shoes versus shoes with laces are a great option.

Patience is Key

The caregiver should allow ample time for this task, as rushing it will only cause frustration for the older adult and the caregiver. Getting dressed is one of the first things we do in the morning, so we want to ensure that the older adult starts the day on the right foot in a comfortable, low stress environment.

By ensuring a safe, calm environment while assisting with dressing, you are not only keeping the client safe, but also ensuring that their independence is preserved. If you, or someone you love could benefit from having a compassionate, dedicated caregiver in their home, schedule a Free In-Home Assessment with Cornerstone Caregiving.



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