As a caregiver, bathing and dressing may become an integral part of your daily duties when caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s – this is why it’s important to know how to handle this sensitive situation.
A large part of the dressing process is to allow for as much privacy and respect as possible – but how is this achievable with such a hands-on task? Here are a few simple dressing tips to keep in mind…
Create a comfortable environment
Make sure your care receiver feels relaxed during the dressing process. This way they are likely to be less embarrassed around you and the entire process will run more smoothly. Watch for cues indicating that they may need extra help, ask if they need assistance, and step away when they don’t.
Make light of awkward situations where possible, laugh when they laugh, be encouraging and, most importantly, be patient.
If you can sense that a care receiver is quickly becoming frustrated and irritable during the dressing process, remind them that you are there to help. If they become confused by a task, use simple, short instructions in a calm tone. Use gentle prompts for each step of the dressing process and encourage them to take their time if needed.
Organise their wardrobe
When it comes to the types of clothes your care receiver wears, make sure you have been a little proactive in their wardrobe organisation and choices. If there are certain items of clothing that are just too cumbersome and time-consuming to put on, eliminate them from the situation.
Simplify wardrobe choices, as too many options can also become overwhelming. Try and incorporate clothing that is easy to get on and off: stretchy fabrics, elastic waistbands, Velcro or elastic lace-up shoes, button-up tops instead of pull-overs etc.
Duplicate sets of clothing
If your care receiver is adamant about wearing the same items of clothing for days on end, there is a simple solution to eliminating issues with personal hygiene. Simply purchase duplicates of their most comfortable, and most commonly worn items of clothes and rotate these items throughout the week. This way, daily dressing is simplified, less confusing and drama-free.
Ditch the slippers
For many people with Parkinson’s, slip-on shoes of any type pose a serious trip and fall hazard, most especially slippers. Make the switch from slippers to non-slip socks which can be worn throughout the house, minimising the risk of a trip, slip and fall accident.
Make sure other shoes are lightweight and well fastened to the feet with Velcro, a simple magnetic buckle or elasticated laces. Try and avoid very tight-fitting, elasticated socks as they tend to cut off circulation – unless prescribed by a Doctor, and opt for a comfortable fit
Dress for the weather
As Parkinson’s progresses, many of its sufferers lose their ability to self-regulate their own body temperature. This is where dressing appropriately for the weather is highly important and will become a large part of your dressing duties. Help them to dress appropriately by wearing layers, which can be peeled off or added to as and when needed.
While the task of bathing or dressing a loved one, most especially an elderly parent or sibling may feel mortifying at first, the process does not need to be a dramatic one. Try and maintain a sense of dignity by being patient and respectful of your loved one’s wishes and this way a comfortable trust will be established.