8 ways to stop them from taking their clothes off

Suzanne FiscelIa, PA-C, BCPA / February 22, 2022

“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.


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Suzanne FiscelIa, PA-C, BCPA

I know exactly what it's like to feel like you just can't keep up. Working a full-time job, raising 3 children as a single mom, and taking care of her aging mother. But after feeling lost, overwhelmed, and guilty for spreading herself too thin, I saw all her patients and their caregivers going through the same thing. I learned how to put simple systems in place to keep my life free from distractions, find free time to do the things I wanted, and enjoy my family along the way. These simple step-by-step solutions have been shared with my patients, friends, and family. They too have found organization, confidence, peace, and freedom. Now we all live the life we love while caregiving! Come join us!

Hi I'm Suzanne

And my mission is to find you practical easy-to-follow solutions for everyday caregiving. Find out more HERE.

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