ALZHEIMER’S, YOUR PARENTS AND THEIR CLOTHES
Mom walks out of my guest room dressed for Christmas Eve service. She’s wearing a big smile. And her favorite red summer dress. It’s 30 degrees outside.
“Who made this wardrobe choice?” I wonder. Dad says that Mom chose the dress herself.
During the service, the church heat kicks on, and the temperature rises to beach conditions. As I fan myself, the congregation stands for prayer. Suddenly, Mom leans on me. Heavily. Then she crumples. Mom? Mom! What is happening? My heart stops.
As I panic a young man from the congregation rushes over to help. He’s a paramedic he tells me, and before I know it, he revives Mom. Mom is perspiring heavily, so the paramedic and I each take an arm and walk her into the narthex. Together we help Mom out of the linen jacket of her dress. I search for something else that I can to remove to cool her off. Then I see the insulated undershirt I gave her four years ago. Mom is wearing it under her summer dress. I guess this wardrobe choice was Mom’s, too.
It occurs to me that my Dad has yet to ever dress a woman for Christmas Eve church service. Even if he had, he is impervious to weather – cold, heat, rain, snow it is all the same to him.. I remember Dad getting in the car for church when I was a child. Snow a foot high. Me shivering in the back seat, watching my breath. Dad wearing just his Sunday suit. I wonder, does Dad even know that women have different summer and winter wardrobes? Can he tell the difference between a summer dress and a winter dress? Has he ever heard of “layering”?
Before bed, I consider what I can do to help. Maybe I just need to rotate Mom’s clothes twice a year like I do mine. I can make sure that her closet only has clothes that fit, are in good condition and are the right weight for the season. This way, whoever makes the wardrobe choices, chances are good Mom will be wearing something seasonally appropriate.
What wardrobe or fashion challenges has your Alzheimer’s Caregiver experienced with your Alzheimer’s Loved One? What suggestions do you have for helping Alzheimer’s Caregivers make appropriate clothing choices?