A Thread of Conversation with the Cape Cod Caregiver

Cape Cod caregiver
Longer lives, chronic conditions: Our world now

Fashion backward: Clothes and caring

March 30, 2014

To dress or not to dress? That is the question for people whose days are unlikely to involve leaving the house. If no one is expected to visit, what’s the harm in staying in one’s pajamas? I am keenly aware of that issue as, over the years, Mom has opted to remain in her nightie most of most days. Family members have occasionally commented about that decision. On rare occasions, the comments have turned to suggestions or even criticisms. A veteran of numerous hospital, rehabilitation, and nursing facility visits, I can attest to the fact that it is commonly considered a healthy habit to get dressed for the day. Not dressing is quite taboo.

bgmatthewsusername · April 14, 2014

My MIL’s attitude was that not getting dressed was “giving up.” She lived with us for four years, and got dressed every day she was here. No matter who was sick–her or me (her caregiver), she got dressed (and that required help). I set aside an outfit for her burial: a pretty blue blazer purchased on an outing with her daughters, a blue scarf from her “other son and DIL,” a white blouse and pin she got for Christmas from my daughters. But the black Alfred Dunner pants were old. That wouldn’t do! When MIL passed away, my daughter bought her a new pair–size 8 petite. “Are they right?” my daughter asked. Well, Grandma would have wanted them in “short,” but they will be fine. My daughter exchanged them anyway, because “Grandma always wanted her outfits to be just right.”

Cape Cod caregiver · April 27, 2014

Yes, the symbolism of getting dressed for the day, or not, can be powerful. Your MIL’s and your commitment to that ritual is admirable. Appreciated your description of the provenance of her “final resting” wardrobe. Such meaning in each piece–and such devotion to her spirit! As to “giving up:” in our case, I’ll know Mom has given up if she fails to smile at the fresh strawberries in her daily fruit salad:-)

bgmatthewsusername · April 27, 2014

That which gave my MIL the most pleasure was getting out of the shower and into her long terry-cloth robe I heated in the dryer. She would literally moan with pleasure. Nice chatting with you!

zuzubird · April 28, 2014

That is the sweetest bit of concern and respect from your daughter for her grandmother. Everyone should be so blessed.

bgmatthewsusername · April 28, 2014 ·

One of the few things my MIL specifically thanked me for was my daughters. They were very supportive of and solicitous of their grandmother. My son and his wife lived further away, but they could always be counted on, too. I am pleased that I could give my MIL the “gift” of my children. My children, in turn, have given me the gift of their children. Nine wonderful grandchildren. I am truly blessed.