Getting dressed can be a hassle for most any person on most any day of the week. I recently had surgery on my thumb, and I have discovered just how much of a challenge dressing and undressing can be when your hands don’t cooperate. I have recently discovered, much to my sadness, how much of a challenge dressing and undressing can be for my Momma. Her hands work perfectly, but mid-stage Alzheimer’s has caused her brain to be less than cooperative.
While I have not yet experienced Momma dressing inappropriately for an occasion, it is likely to happen one day. Many of my clients have already had this disturbing experience. It looks like this. You pick up your loved one for Sunday morning worship, and you discover they are wearing their bra on the outside of their shirt. Oh my, this will never work! What can be done to correct the situation without upsetting the precious lady who is not dressed appropriately?
You can always become upset and yell. “My goodness, Momma, you can’t go to church dressed like that. You look ridiculous.” That is a plan that will make Momma feel sad, and maybe even angry, and she will very likely not be interested in changing clothes. Bad plan, indeed.
You could say, instead, “Gosh, Momma, I did not know you had such a beautiful bra. When did you get that? My bras are not as attractive. Do you mind if I take a closer look?” She will probably agree, and then you might ask if you can remove it just so you can discover who made this beautiful bra. Once again, Momma is so excited that you like what she is wearing, and she will probably be happy for you to take a look.
After reaching this point, I recommend you quickly change the subject. “Momma this bra is the prettiest shade of pink. You know, I think you have a jacket that is this exact shade of pink. Yep, here it is. Will you try it on?” Momma will likely proceed with trying on the jacket, and you should keep talking about how pretty she looks in pink, how it compliments her eye color, and that you just might wear pink tomorrow to work. Be sure that you removed the bra from her field of vision when you left to retrieve the pink jacket.
Momma’s mind is totally on how pretty she looks in the pink jacket, and the bra is no longer an issue, whatsoever. Crisis adverted! Good job!
Carol Howell is a Certified Dementia Specialist and Endorsed Life Coach with an emphasis on Creative Music Experiences. After her husband’s closed-head injury in 1996 and her mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2006, Carol began her study of the brain and the various forms of dementia that exist. Through her not-for profit company, Senior Life Journeys, she is actively involved in the lives of individuals who are caregiving for a loved-one with dementia as she helps them develop caregiving techniques. Carol’s latest book, Let’s Talk Dementia-A Caregiver’s Guide, is an Amazon #1 Best Seller, and it is an easy to read guide for caregivers of individuals with dementia. She also wrote the best seller If My Body Is A Temple, Why Am I Eating Doughnuts? It tells of the amazing miracle that caused her to lose 100 pounds. You can follow her blog—Something to Ponder—at www.seniorlifejourneys.com.