Dressing residents with dignity

My grandma ironed all my Mom’s clothes when she was growing up. When I was growing up, my Mom made sure all my clothes were pressed, too. Nonsense, I said. Ironing was a waste of time. That’s what dryers are for. Just as long as the clothes are clean.

Even so, Mom bought me an iron and tiny ironing board when I went to college. I stowed them away and used them at most a handful of times. But after I got my first place post-graduation, one of the first things I bought for myself was an ironing board.

After my youthful rebellion, I realized I don’t want to be sloppy and wrinkly. My grandma didn’t have a million bucks, but she wanted them to look like they were a respectful member of society. Dressing was more than a matter of appearance. It was a reflection of the family and how far they had come to raise well-dressed American children. It was also an act of love for my grandma to wrap her children in clothes to keep them warm and keep them from catching cold.

That dress code doesn’t apply to dressing today, but there’s something to be said about taking pride in your appearance. As trivial and time consuming as ironing may be, I think creases and crisp collars make me look good. When we look our best, we feel our best.

Which is why I got misty-eyed about Sue’s Closet. Alison Raynor saw her mom and other residents with Alzheimer’s disease needed more clothes that weren’t threadbare or stained. Alison says she could provide for her Mother, but not all other residents were as lucky. She could do something about it, so she is.

She started collecting donations for residents in her mother’s unit about two years ago. In 2017, she wants to turn the collection into a nonprofit organization, Sue’s Closet, in honor of her mother.

The organization will provide new and gently used men’s and women’s clothing and blankets to those with dementia and memory care-diseases throughout the Capital Region of New York. Allison is working to spread the word so area nursing homes and assisted living facilities know the closet is available.

“My ultimate goal is to not have any patients who are suffering from this that don’t have comfortable clothes, or that are wearing the same thing over and over again,” Alison said to the Troy Record. “Ultimately, I want them all to have what they need.”

Alison says her mom took pride in being dressed nice every day and believes every person with dementia deserves the same treatment and dignity.

Those interested in donating items to Sue’s Closet can email Alison at suesclosetendalz@gmail.com. More information, inlcuding needs for specific articles of clothing, can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/suesclosetendalz.

Seniors with dementia likely remember the feeling of putting on a starched button down. Nice, freshly-pressed clothes can be a source of pride. Something as simple as a shirt can remind them they are respectable members of society who deserve to be treated as such. 

Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia