Helpful Hints for Handling Refusals: Dressing

This blog builds on information covered in some other blogs:

  • Care refusals based on fear
  • Preventing care-resistant/care refusal behavior
  • Handling care refusals in real time

In this blog, I will show you how to tailor these general approaches to specific situations where you may have, or have already encountered, care refusals or resistance.

Let’s Get DressedNOT “Do you want to get dressed?

It may be best to introduce the topic of dressing as a stated activity, not as a question. Allow the older adult to dress as independently as possible. As dementia gets worse, it becomes more difficult to select outfits or remember the order in which the clothes should be put on. You can help by laying the clothes out in order or handing them to your family member one at a time. Use prompts, either in the form of short, 1-step requests or by gesturing and pantomiming. If someone is really resistant to getting dressed, it can be helpful to use the “ask for help” technique by asking them to show you how to put on an item of clothing.

Also, avoid rushing. If you are getting refusals, try to think about possible reasons for refusals. One patient of mine was a retired school teacher who absolutely refused to change out of her pajamas and robe. Her sister began telling the patient that the students were waiting for her in class. Problem solved.

 

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