What are we wearing?

Melbourne weather is notoriously changeable, so most of us Melburnians have become clever at building our wardrobes with clothing that is also adaptable. Nevertheless, it was a bit tricky when it came to choosing the clothing for Dorothy to have in her new care home! Luckily, we have a daughter nearby who has been able to guide me, a mere male, in this wardrobe dilemma.

I’ll start with a firm foundation, and deal with the undergarments…..With the progression of years and muscle control, I guess it’s only natural that Dorothy now wears disposable underwear. Mostly she is still continent, but paper pants are a fantastic piece of underwear! When I visit, and the weather permits, I try to take her out, either to walk in the nearby streets or for a drive in the car to a nearby park. Now here’s a handy hint if you are in the same boat as me: try to remember to always ask if she wants to go to the toilet before we go. Sometimes she obliges, and then I feel happier, because wearing soiled pants can have disastrous effects with ‘nappy rash’ or worse. Her wardrobe does include three or four pairs of cotton undies which I notice the staff sometimes use as well.

I think it’s really important that Dorothy has good, well-fitting shoes. All the floor surfaces of the residence have been very carefully planned with virtually no tripping hazards. Elderly folk (like me, too) can be very susceptible to falls, with all the unwanted consequences, so Dorothy’s footwear is critical. She has three pairs of shoes there but, these days, the staff don’t use her lace-ups and I totally agree that laces are not only a nuisance to tie, but can be very hazardous when they become undone (I must remember to bring them home). Slip-ons are easy to put on and safe as long as they are not a ‘sloppy’ fit. One pair she has is slightly oversize and, whilst they are OK indoors, they are not good for walking outside. The staff are good at choosing appropriate shoes from her wardrobe and I see they favour the second pair of slip-ons I bought which have a Velcro strap across the top which makes them easy to tighten, snug across their width. That makes them quick and easy to undo and yet, when firmly closed, are excellent for walking, too. I took Dorothy out to a great shoe shop we discovered, years ago, in Heidelberg who suggested that type of shoe because they are a close fit and have a non-slip sole (I can tell you the address if you ask me). She also has a pair of slippers but, really, they are hardly ever worn.

Most of the ‘tops’ (blouse/shirts) I took in for her, last summer when she was first admitted, are like a shirt with lots of fiddly buttons down the front. These often become undone and cause her some distress at times as she struggles to do them up again. Not a serious distraction, but I think the kind of tops which slip over her head might be easier to manage as they usually have only one or two buttons or better still, none. While the residents are indoors the premises are airconditioned but, when they go on walks or excursions, they need to be able to add and remove ‘layers’ of clothing easily. For that reason, I have tried to ensure she has suitable clothing to use as layers. There are three pullovers, a couple of cardigans and a lightweight coat and one of those, or more, can be added as required. As I write these notes, I am reminded that I should review her wardrobe as the days lengthen and become warmer.

I notice that she and (I think!) the other ladies don’t wear bra’s now. I understand and totally agree that they are not necessary and provide yet another dressing distraction. I am no expert on this topic (you may be surprised to know!) but I am happy when she is happy, and she never seems bothered by their absence.

Mmmm, I do think I should ask our daughter to help me review Dorothy’s clothing requirements now that Spring is in the air. Meanwhile, I have enough clothing issues of my own to be concerned with! My laundering does not include any ironing except for a couple of shirts worn at more formal occasions and one or two other items that might otherwise look a bit scruffy. Tragically, our steam iron, which was many years old, recently refused to work and I was forced to buy a replacement. I found a brand-new ‘Aldi’ brand stainless steel-based steam iron at the local Salvo’s shop for $12 – tested as safe, too! So, I have ‘pressed it into service’ for a tablecloth, two pillowcases and one shirt. It has passed the test brilliantly. Thanks to the Salvation Army shop, you are indeed a saviour for us oldies!