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Deciding what to wear

March 20, 2017
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After I lived in a nursing home for a few years, I learned what type of clothing worked best. In the 1970s, I started wearing mostly slacks and pullover shirts because those styles are easier when using a wheelchair. I buy comfortable, conservatively styled mix-and-match tops and elastic waist pants. Though I have had washable wool, it does not launder well. I get clothing advertised to be wrinkle free because there is no one to iron out the wrinkles.

Since I read we wear 20 percent of our clothing 80 percent of the time, I rotate clothing in an attempt to wear it all. But, I need enough winter pants to have extras in case a washer or dryer goes down.

In winter, I wear corduroy pants, heavy jeans or knit pants with mock turtlenecks and long-sleeved tops. Midweight clothing consists of regular jeans or knit pants with long-sleeved T-shirts and knit T-shirts. In summer, I wear cotton poly pants, lightweight knits or light jeans with short-sleeved knit tops and T-shirts.

It has been more difficult to find tops with crew or jewel necklines the last couple of years. So are pants with straight legs that do not hover at the ankles. Though my sister likes me in tops with button-down plackets and collars, I have trouble finding them. I avoid scoop and boat necklines as well.

I prefer to look well turned out, even when I am not going anywhere. I wear both vivid colors and soft pastels. The last time I really dressed up was in the 1980s when I wore a two-piece dress to the party my sister had after her wedding.

Some residents do not seem to care how they are dressed. I think comfort is their first concern. But, I feel better when I know I make a good presentation. However, some day’s sweats look inviting, so I wear them.

At my previous nursing home, I had a private room and could store more clothing in it. In this facility, I am relegated to a semiprivate with a small closet, so I have learned to adapt my wardrobe. I wish there were more innovative ways to store clothing in my room. But there just is not enough space. Because the closet is only 29 inches wide, barely one in season's duds will fit. Heavier items overwhelm the closet.

To keep my closet neater, I get inexpensive, velvet hangers. They have smaller hooks that fit better into the closet. However, buying the velvet hangers that are sold on shopping channels is probably better, since they may last longer. The economical ones break frequently, but clothing does not fall off of them.

I keep some off-season clothing in bags beside my closet. This nursing home has storage area in the basement. Some of my clothing and other items are stored there, but I do not get to see it. Any clothing stored down there is in resealable plastic bags inside of totes.

Every spring, when I want lighter weight clothing, I have to ask early enough so the housekeepers can bring it from the basement. I wish I could have my clothing where I could go through it frequently. When I lived at my previous nursing home, my sister took my off-season clothing home. Even though I knew my clothes were safe, occasionally a clothing item went missing. I wonder what items might be "lost in space" in the basement.

My clothing has become more minimal style wise over the years. I am sure my family and friends are tired of seeing my different colors of the same style of clothing, but I feel that is what works for this nursing home resident.

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 21 years. She is an incomplete...

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