GREENVILLE, S.C. — Bradford, Pa., native Brenda Morris-Wilton knows that it can be hard when someone is having difficulty performing everyday tasks such as dressing oneself, both for the person and for the loved one who is caring for them.
Authored Apparel, the adaptive clothing line founded by Wilton, shared these tips for making the experience better:
• Recognize that, with COVID-19 placing close contact to a minimum, support should have the goal of allowing a loved one to dress as independently as possible.
• Very often, individuals and their caregivers may choose clothing that is oversized because it’s easier to put on. But oversized clothing can increase the risk of falls or injuries. Clothing that is “stretchable” when putting on, but then provides a snug fit is preferable.
• Devices to assist with dressing are widely available and often inexpensive. Dressing sticks and devices to aid with buttons, socks and shoes are just a few options that one can choose.
• If you are assisting someone with dressing, make sure you understand what they can do for themselves and what they can’t. The ability to dress independently — even in part — provides valuable mental health benefits. Help that is seen as too “parental” can be harmful in this regard.
• If you are helping someone dress, make sure to manipulate the clothing not the person. A top cause of caregiver injury is stooping and straining to help someone, especially if that someone weighs more than the caregiver. To reduce the risk of caregiver injury: Stretch before it on your loved one. Coach them to move at the appropriate time to aid you.
• If you are caring for a loved one with dementia consider that, for those whose condition is more advance, skin can become more sensitive. Soft, non-abrasive fabrics are good choices.
• Conversation tips: Make sure you ask some of the following questions when speaking with isolated, elderly family members:
- “Do you find it difficult to get dressed? What’s the hardest part?”
- “Are there any articles of clothing you are no longer wearing due to dressing difficulties?”
- “On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable are you in your clothes on an average day?”
- “How often are you able to change your clothes?”
Wilton offered this final tip: “Let them know how good they look! Every day we get up and, for one more day, choose how we will dress. If your ability to dress is limited by your age or your function, your choices diminish, or are often made for you. That’s one of the big reasons I started Authored because I believe that no matter your age or ability, everyone deserves clothing that is stylish, well made and makes them feel great!”