Top Tips for Dressing Someone with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s is a debilitating disease that can make life very difficult for patients and caregivers. Its progressive nature ensures that these challenges will only get worse as the patient ages, turning seemingly simple activities like getting dressed into tiring and frustrating chores.

If you’re a caregiver for someone with Parkinson’s Disease, you may struggle to dress them and perform other basic tasks. In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the tips you can use to make this task, and your job, easier. 

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Plan ahead and make sure you have plenty of time to get them dressed every day. Trying to rush the process will only make it worse, leading to frustration and causing unnecessary strife. 

Turn it Into a Ritual

It’s important to create schedule/ritual—something you can adhere to every day. It may make them feel more at ease to know when the process begins and to know that they don’t need to rush.

A basic personal hygiene and grooming routine can be added to the mix, getting everything out of the way at once and preparing them for the day or night ahead. Incorporate habits such as showering, shaving, moisturizing, hair styling, and perfume/cologne. 

If you’re their spouse, you can get ready alongside them, saving a little time and turn it into a bonding moment.

Loosen Up

It may help them if they perform a few basic warm-up exercises before trying to get dressed. The warmer and looser the muscles are, the easier the process will be. 

Keep it Simple

Forget about making multiple trips to the closet to try several different outfits. Keep it simple. Choose clothes that they are happy to wear and clothes that are loose and comfortable.

As far as shoes are concerned, you should stick with Velcro or slip-ons, while avoiding too many layers and swapping jeans with buttons and zippers for elasticated waistbands.

Ask Them to Sit Down

If it helps, ask them to sit down while they get dressed. They can support themselves using the chair. It may help them to stay balanced as they get ready, but it’s important that the chair is sturdy and supportive and that they are not sitting on the edge and leaning forward.

Let Them Lead

If they can partially dress themselves, let them. It’s important to give them as much input as possible, only helping when it’s absolutely necessary. Give them pointers, be patient with them, and don’t get frustrated when they take a long time to do something. The more independence they have, the better they will feel, and keeping their mental well-being high is essential.

By the same token, when purchasing and choosing clothes, you should give them some input into the process. It’s important to be practical, which means focusing on loose clothes instead of tight-fitting leather pants and skin-tight shirts, but they can still make their own choices.

Lay the Clothes Out

Make sure everything is prepared and laid out on the bed or on a chair. Having everything prepared in advance will ensure you don’t waste time fussing about clothing and color choices. 

Visit the Barber

Schedule regular trips to the salon or barber to keep their hair tidy and to trim or shave facial hair. It will take some of the responsibility away from you, but you’ll need to find a barber who understands the situation, has experience helping patients with Parkinson’s Disease, and is happy to help.

Pedicures and manicures can also help, keeping their nails trimmed and fresh and providing them with a relaxing experiencing at the same time.

Re-Think the Razors

If they’re shaving and you don’t like regular visits to the barber, consider buying electric razors instead of manual ones. They’re easier to use and may be a little safer.

The same applies to hair clippers. Rather than taking a chance with scissors, consider buying some hair trimmers. The risk of cuts and nicks is low with these devices, and they get the job done quickly when trimming short hair.

Think About Safety

If your home has many hardwood floors, purchase non-skid socks or slippers. If they are prone to bumping into things or there are lots of tight spaces, avoid clothes that might catch on door handles and exposed pieces of furniture.

You can adapt your house as well, adding non-slip mats to the bathroom and kitchen floors and placing grab bars in key places.

Think About Temperature Control

Parkinson’s Disease sufferers can struggle to regulate their body temperature, making it essential for them to dress suitably when they are out and about. They should wear light clothing during the hot summer months, being sure to cover their skin with sunscreen, and warm clothing during the winter.

Put practicality and comfort before aesthetics. 

Let Them Wear Make-up If They Want To

If they want to wear makeup, let them. There’s no harm in it and they may feel more secure and confident with their usual face paint on. You can help them with this, following their instructions to ensure they look the way they want. 

It might add an extra hour or so to your daily duties, but it can make a massive difference to their well-being and it’s something you can reserve for special occasions, such as a night out or a dinner party with friends.

Have Regular Clear-outs

The older we get, the more unwanted clothes we accumulate, from sweaters we haven’t worn since we were 30, to jeans that don’t even fit anymore. If your loved one or care recipient has accumulated a lot of clothes, it’s time to get rid of them.

Donate unwanted and unworn clothes to Goodwill and minimize the clutter. It’ll make it easier to find suitable clothes and will give you room to add more. Everyone loves a little clothes shopping every now and then, and when you have a half-empty closet at home, it’s almost mandatory!

Enjoy a day out and buy some new clothes with them.