An unexpected need

A few visits ago, an aide at the Alz center asked me to bring Mom some new clothes. She took me to Mom’s room and opened the closet, pointing to the kinds of shirts that aren’t so great – blouses with buttons – and those that work the best – short- or long-sleeved pullovers. The presence of buttons, the aide explained, seems to encourage Mom to open her shirt when she is hot. She needed some more pants, too. Everything should be as easy as possible to put on and take off.

I never would have guessed that I would ever need to buy Mom clothes again. We filled a walk-in closet with her wardrobe when she moved to assisted living, and we pared down the supply when she moved to the nursing home – but she still had plenty of different shirts and pants to wear, for all seasons. But she is messy, so her clothes are laundered frequently. They are wearing out. Some, undoubtedly, get lost, even if her name is written on them.

So I went to Kohl’s recently to buy some new sheet sets, and scanned the clearance racks for potential shirts for Mom. I found three colorful pullovers that could be worn in any season, really. Long sleeves, but a fairly light cotton fabric. A waffle weave, so they have a little bit of bulk. Mom and virtually ever other woman at the Alz center is braless at this point in her life, so I like Mom’s shirts to at least provide some decent cover to her naked chest. I found three pairs of elastic-waist cotton pants in the petite department. Mom used to be taller than I am, but she is shorter than me now. And it’s just as well if her pants are too short so there is no risk that she will trip over them.

I like the colors in the shirts. By god, if I've got to buy Mom clothes at this point in her life, I'm going to buy clothes that make her stand out in a crowd.

I like the colors in the shirts. By god, if I’ve got to buy Mom clothes at this point in her life, I’m going to buy clothes that make her stand out in a crowd.

I breezed in last Friday morning to drop off the clothes. My support-group friend was there. His wife was napping. I visited him briefly, but I was antsy about getting to work. His wife came out of her room and asked, “Where’s D?” And he said, “I’m right here.” “Where’s D?” she asked. He put his arm around her. “I’m always right here,” he said. “Where’s my family?” she asked. I patted her arm and said she should give herself a chance to wake up, that she was still out of it. To him, I said, I think it’s a good thing that she lives here at the Alz center now. I don’t think he needs to be convinced anymore. I think being at home with her was hard, and seeing her change in this new setting is hard.

Mom was drowsy when I stopped in, and was lying on a couch. I bent down to talk to her and she sat up and just started chatting away. She was very cheerful. I told her she had some new outfits to look forward to. I hope everything fits, and doesn’t get lost. Though if I have to buy her even more clothes, that would certainly be OK.

6 comments so far

  1. Gemma McLuckie on

    My dad continues to get new shirts. He tells my brother he needs them and they go shopping. He did buy clothes — especially jackets — in the facility’s gift shop, but seems to have stopped doing that now. The laundry service is very hard on clothes, that’s for sure.

  2. momsbrain on

    Maybe it’s something that feels normal – or it’s a good reason to get out and about. Or maybe he forgets what he has? Or all of the above, perhaps…

  3. Jenniferjayhawk on

    Many of my mom’s clothes have gone missing. My sister in law has had to update her pants situation.

    That is funny about the braless situation. My Mom stopped wearing one several years ago when she hurt her back. She usually wears a t shirt and then a blouse/shirt on top.

  4. momsbrain on

    Hi, Jennifer! A lot of my mom’s clothes are missing, too, though I also see her wearing clothes that are not hers. So I guess it’s an equal opportunity mishmash of clothes at her nursing home. I remember being a little stunned to see all the women braless at the Alz center when Mom first moved in – but I get it. At this place, and at this stage in life, who really needs a bra?

  5. Jeff on

    I like the colors of mom’s new clothes, the blouses especially. I say go and power shop!!

  6. momsbrain on

    I’m glad you like them! I may need to shop again just to spend more of her money since she is near her maximum threshold.

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