A person with dementia looking at clothes in a shop with a family member

10 ways to make dressing easier for people with dementia

As dementia progresses, a person will need more help with everyday activities such as getting dressed. We share 10 ideas that could help make dressing easier while supporting the person’s identity and personal choice.

Getting dressed is a very personal daily activity and choosing what we wear is often an expression of our identity and how we are feeling. People living with dementia increasingly need more help as time goes on, but it’s important to support them to make their own choices for as long as possible. 

There are lots of ways to do this – some people may just need more time, while others may find labels or visual aids useful. If a person does need assistance, it’s important to offer it in a sensitive way. 

Here are some of our top tips on how you can make dressing a comfortable, enjoyable experience, encouraging a sense of freedom and independence.

How to make dressing easier for people with dementia 

1. Use signs on furniture

A way to help a person with dementia stay independent when dressing is to add signs to wardrobes and drawers so that they can easily find their clothes.

Use a combination of words and pictures to make the signs clear and easy to understand.

2. Lay it out

Lay out a full outfit on a plain background in the order the person would put the items on. For example, start with underwear and socks, then a top and trousers, a belt, before finishing with a jumper or cardigan.

Make sure that items aren’t inside out, and that all buttons, zippers and fastenings are undone. If the person needs help, gently suggest the next item to put on or hand it to them. 

Clear, simple instructions are helpful if they become confused, for example ‘put your arm in the sleeve,’ or ‘put your foot through that trouser leg’.

Try not to worry if the person makes mistakes.

3. Reduce the options

Choosing what to wear every day can is an important personal choice for many people. Allowing a person with dementia the choice of what they would like to wear each day can help them feel independent and confident.

However, too much choice can be overwhelming.

If the person appears unsure or confused, try reducing the number of options to just a couple of their favourite items.

Keep favourite clothing somewhere that’s easily accessible, so it's always close to hand.

4. Take it slow

Giving enough time when dressing can make the experience far more comfortable and relaxing for everyone involved. Rushing a person through the steps can cause distress and anxiety, so keep a slow, steady pace.

5. Accept the unusual

If the person makes odd or unusual clothing choices, respect them.

It’s more important to let them make their own decisions, as long as their choice isn’t harming them in any way e.g., wearing clothes that are not appropriate for the weather which means they will be either too hot or too cold.

6. Try a visual aid

Everyone has different style tastes, so try not to assume you know what they would like to wear, or how they would style their hair or make-up.

Keeping photos of how they like to look can help to make the process of getting ready easier.

7. Think about layering

Several layers of thin clothing are far easier to adapt during the day than one or two thick layers which can’t be removed.

This way, if they person is feeling too warm, a layer can be removed. Too cold, and another can be added.

8. Change clothes regularly

Changing clothes regularly, especially if they’re dirty, is important. However, someone living with dementia may be resistant to this change.

If they’re reluctant to get changed, swap the items out for fresh ones when they’re bathing, or let them know you’d love to see them wearing something smart and clean.

Consider buying duplicates of favourite clothes so that the person can wear the clean one while the other is being washed.

Not everybody is used to changing their clothing every day; this should be respected, as long as their clothing isn’t becoming a hygiene issue or making them unsafe.

9. Create a comfortable environment

Think about whether the surroundings are suitable for getting dressed.

Is the room warm enough? Do you need to turn on a light, or draw the curtains? Does the person prefer the door to be open or closed? Ask them if they would like to go to the toilet beforehand.

Small adjustments can make all the difference.

10. Try shopping together

When shopping for new clothes, it’s a good idea to think about how practical they might be. Look for clothing that is easy to put on or take off, such as trousers with no fastenings and an elasticated waistband, or tops that fasten with velcro rather than going over the person's head.

While it might be nice to have lots of new items to choose from to wear, someone living with dementia may not recognise them as their own items and refuse to wear them.

Picking out multiple of a favourite item they wear often can help them feel confident in their choice and comfortable when dressing.

Supporting a person with dementia to get dressed

For more help making dressing a positive experience, read our information or browse our shop for suitable items. 

Read advice on dressing Visit our online shop


So many people do not think about the individual’s history or personal preferences and how distressed people can be if not appropriately dressed in their eyes they just say it’s ok you don’t need to change etc. My father would happily do the gardening in his work clothes but he would be devastated if he couldn’t shave, wear his chosen appropriate clothing and polish his shoes to wear if anyone including family were to see him or if he had to go out anywhere beyond the garden whether or not anyone might see him. You see this so often with the elderly especially in care homes. The care staff do not seem to grasp the importance of how someone might be dressed including makeup and hair if they are to leave their rooms and go to the dining room for meals etc. Once they go over their threshold in their bedroom etc they are actually in the public domain- so please if anyone says they need to tidy themselves up or get ready for dinner- please take them to their rooms to do so and think how you might feel going out on the town unhappy and completely inappropriately dressed and feeling insecure because of it . 5 mins of your time could make the world of difference to someone else x
Our hygienist has highlighted to me that my husband is not cleaning his teeth thoroughly enough. She advises that I clean his teeth. He has all his own teeth and can/used to use an electric toothbrush or a manual one. It’s not easy to clean someone’s teeth when they don’t want it done, and are in denial that they have any memory/health issues. Any tips.? Thank you.
When mum's dementia progressed she refused to wear anything black. She had always dressed smartly and black items were a staple in her wardrobe. She seemed to have a problem with black in hallucinations and delusions. May be a colour to stay clear of when buying new clothes as I ended up having to discard lots of clothes for this reason. She even told me I shouldn't wear black. I found unlined pull on skirts helpful for her, not lined ones as she was confused what to do with the lining. Could not wear trousers as she would try to walk from the bathroom with them round her ankles.
I’m trying to help my Client with comprehending how to distinguish the left shoe from the right shoe. Help!

Hi, Tracy.

It sounds like you might benefit from join our online community. This is the ideal place to talk to other people affected by dementia, including carers and people living with dementia. Talking Point is free to use and open day or night: https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/

Alternatively, we'd recommend calling our support line on 0333 150 3456 to speak with one of our trained dementia advisers to discuss your client's needs. You can find more details about the support line (including opening hours and other methods of contact) here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

We hope this helps for now.

Alzheimer's Society website team

Try writing L and R inside their shoe. Or a small dot of red nail varnish inside the right shoe.

My friends elderly parent has dementia. Are there any visual aids to help remember how to clean and get herself off the commode. Any advice will be helpful. Thankyou in advance

Hi Kay,

Thanks for your comment.

We have a factsheet on continence and using the toilet for carers that your friend may find helpful. You can read it online or order a printed copy here:

For more advice and support tailored to your friend's specific situation, they may find it helpful to talk to one of our dementia advisers. To talk to an adviser, just call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. You can find more details here:

Hope this is helpful, Kay.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

My grandmother has a hard time accepting that everyone needs to bathe everyday or every other day. The only way I can get her into the shower is if I put myself in the shower with her as well. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks !

Hi Rebecca, thanks for your comment.
Sorry to hear about your grandmother - that sounds like a difficult situation.
We have a factsheet with information and tips for washing and bathing which you may find useful. You can view it online or order a free copy here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/daily-living/washing-and-bath…
If you need any further support, don't hesitate to contact our helpline to speak with one of our dementia advisers: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/national-dementia-helpline
I hope this is helpful,
Alzheimer's Society blog team

Yes its a good idea 2 also shower as well if its practical & if mobilty not great i get my husband to prepare4 shower & it works well of course as a couple this is relatively easy but acceptable sometimes for others its,all about trial error & abilitys my husband has FLD so is orientated but would never do it without prompting !

Hi, My husband has a lot of the issues that all the people have the forgetfulness is all the time I have to repeat my self all the time. My husband eat very well gets his greens because he loves salads. I try to be very patient with him but it’s hard. I’m hanging in their it’s my job as a wife . They say through sickness and health. Thanks

It is a struggle if like my husband not slways cooperative. As u say
in sickness and in health. My husband has only just been diagnosed
but I see there will be problems ahead. Very proud and independent,
stubborn too. Any advice welcome.

Hi Susan, we're sorry to learn about the struggles you're facing with your husband.
We recently published an article titled 'How to offer help to someone with dementia who doesn’t want it', which you might find useful: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/how-offer-help-someone-dementia-who-…
For specialised information and advice, please call our Helpline to speak with our expert advisers: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/national-dementia-helpline
Alternatively, join Dementia Talking Point to chat with other people in your situation: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-talking-point-our-on…
We hope this helps.
Alzheimer's Society blog team

Thank you all very much. This article gave me an idea about what I should do. My dad has dementia and it’s not easy at all. The comments are also really helpful too. Thanks.

My Mum used to refuse help to change and wash wearing the same clothes for days and weeks if I didn't intervene.
She used to undress and leave clothes on the floor next to bed every night.
Bingo ! I went out and bought 10 of every the same. I would go to her home knowing she would be asleep , creep upstairs and drop her clean clothes on the floor unfolded and take back to my house for washing. This saved my pride Mums dignity and she didn't smell when she was going out to the shops.
Most importantly all for both of us it avoided conflict .

Like a lot of people my wife has far too many clothes and also like lots of us, she has her favourites. When it comes to going out, she gets very confused as to what to wear so I’m thinking that maybe the time has come to downsize her wardrobe so as to make it easier for her to decide what to wear. Might make it easier for me to know what’s clean and what’s dirty as well. I guess it’s all about making life easier for them and then hopefully making life easier for us the carers in the process.

Yes I’ve found that with mum .
If I change the look or style of clothes she won’t wear them .
She won’t come shopping and hates spending money .
So I buy her the same or similar things and take away the old .
She’s happy with that . Even if I tell her she won’t remember. So I have to do it when she’s out of her room

Thank you for this article, I found it very useful although my husband hasn't reached this stage in his diagnosis yet, he is still able to look after himself. One thing explained was the reluctance to wear new clothes they are unfamiliar with, I find this a bone of contention with my husband because he just will not buy new clothes so I have bought him some, he hasn't worn them all yet but one jumper that is a familiar colour he has taken to.

I’ve enjoyed reading this. I try to let my dad do as much as possible.i gently support whilst he pulls up his trousers for instance.

My husband has difficulty with open ended zips and zipped pockets. He tries to get into the pockets from the inside.....I am going to go through his wardrobe and remove all suspect clothing!

I found that bracers were easier for my husband than a belt