8 ways to stop them from taking their clothes off


“Every time I turn around mom is taking her clothes off. The other day she was sitting on the back porch naked as a jailbird! Thank God we live in Florida.”

The main reason people with dementia remove their clothes is that they are uncomfortable.  Their brain is telling them they itch, the clothes are too tight, they are hot, or feel like they are burning. Imagine if you felt like tiny little rose needles were all over you.
Perhaps your loved one has ongoing UTIs or urological problems that cause them to want to remove clothes because they feel the urgent need to go.   
They could be hallucinating and thinking it is time for bed. Or, bugs are crawling over them.
They may need their pull-ups changed.

Seniors with no dementia who take their clothes off.

Some seniors find themselves too uncomfortable in clothes for various reasons. Some are too hot. Others will not wear undergarments as they are too tight and restrictive. Some have soiled their clothes and just did not get around to putting on clothes. Seniors who live alone will often walk around naked.

If you notice that your loved one is not wearing many clothes anymore, it can also be becasue they feel they might “smell”. Seniors are very aware that they could smell like urine. As much as they try to wash, the aging pelvic floor and folds in the genital area make it difficult to wipe. Be patient with them. Find pretyy clothes for them to wear but make sure they are loose. Some of the best clothes for seniors are light linens, sheer clothe. Heavy wools will make them itch.


Pay attention to signals.

Signs to look for:

  • Tugging at zippers or shirt sleeves.
  • Fumbling with buttons.
  • What happened just before they started the behavior. What could have triggered it? Time of day? Look for a pattern and then ask…
  • Are their needs being met?
  • What are they trying to tell me?

What to do:

  • Keep calm. Your emotional tone is very important.
  • Do not embarrass or humiliate them.
  • Ask, “I see you are uncomfortable but this is not the right time to take your clothes off. Come with me and take a walk.”
  • Try to distract them and get their focus on something else.
  • Replace their clothes with items that are not easy to remove unless they have help.
  • Jumpsuits and tops with back zippers.
  • You will find an array of attractive and practical Alzheimer’s clothing online.
  • Make sure their clothes are not too tight.

If your loved one wants to take their socks off and walk around the house in bare feet you may just be ok with that. Just make sure they don’t slip or fall. There are socks that are slip resistant and they are sometimes better than slippers.

If your senior does NOT have dementia…

  • Put them in loose clothing.
  • Don’t make them wear underwear or bras if they don’t want to. I had many a senior patient who did not wear undergarments and it was fine.
  • Make sure they are not cold. Feel their skin. A blanket of soft material works wonders rather than a jacket or sweater. You can also try a shawl.


About the Author

Do you feel frustrated with your medical care? Do doctors spend 5 minutes with you, push you out of the office, with you wondering what's going to happen? Does your insurance deny paying? You're not alone. I'm frustrated, too. This is a growing trend in healthcare. Having seen pre-insurance medicine (yes, my dad was an old country doctor), I grew up watching him spend time with his patients, giving them the best care he had to offer. I saw families trust him to help them through hospitalizations and the next crisis. As a patient advocate, my job is to see that you get the right diagnosis, the right treatment plans, and the right supplies and education to make good decisions about your health. More importantly, I will teach you the tricks of the healthcare trade. We need more healthcare consumer protection, especially for chronic illnesses like diabetes. This is what I am passionate about. I make it happen every day with thousands of patients who now know what I know about beating the healthcare system and getting the best patient care...Patient Best.

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