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Tailor - oh dear!

A tailor came to measure Dad up. He's local with a good reputation.

I thought from what he said when I contacted him that he understood the issues surrounding dementia, but as he discussed what was needed, it became apparent that he didn't. Maybe he's only encountered mild dementia, or maybe he's only encountered dementia that affects someone almost entirely mentally.

I don't think he understands modern incontinence pants. I shall have to go to the shop, I think, and explain what happens when they expand. (He may think of them as like old-fashioned nappies where the urine spreads out, not as modern chemicals which expand leaving Dad with something like a bag of sugar between his legs.) Of course, it's possible he understood but didn't say.

He was convinced that continuing to wear braces was best for Dad. How to explain how much of a tangle a man with dementia can get into with a pair of braces? I tried to explain diplomatically but didn't want to embarass Dad.

You can, I'm sure, all imagine it even if your loved one doesn't use braces.

Picture Dad. He feels the need to urinate or defecate and probably isn't sure which. He struggles to stand, struggles to walk. Struggles to urinate standing. Struggles to get his braces off to sit down, whether it's to urinate or to defecate.

I guess the tailor's never worn pants without flies inside trousers with flies. It's not actually terribly easy to extract a penis that way.

As for the desire to replace hooks on the waistband with a button, I wondered how to explain to the tailor that there can come a point in life at which a button is a mystifying thing, at which if you have a button to undo, you have to press the buzzer and wait for a member of staff to come and help while you mess your pants. I managed to suggest that it was just a matter of speed and arthritis.

I think I shall have to draw up a list of things to explain. Why, oh why, didn't I think of what to explain beforehand? Why, oh why, didn't it occur to me to make very sure the tailor understood the implications of dementia as it advances?

Dad has always had bespoke trousers but his usual tailors aren't local and he can't get to them so it would have meant taking measurements. I suppose I could have phoned. "Same as before but an extra 2" round the waist, 1/2" less on the leg and can you make the crotch lower to accommodate his pants?"

I can cope with a lot, but dealing with what I'll broadly call tradesmen/businessmen was always, as I was brought up, a man's role. I can cope with academic professionals like lawyers, doctors, accountants etc., but with tradesmen I'm floundering unassertively. I don't know what to do with workmen around the house, with the gardener, with the cable company etc.

I'm rather assuming that if the tailor has so little understanding of dementia, he isn't a carer for someone with dementia, so doesn't read this forum, but if he does, I daresay he'll be having a smile. He seemed both kind and professional. I'm sure it'll be fine when I speak with him but I think I shall find it rather absurdly nervewracking psyching myself up to do it.


Registered User
Mar 1, 2013
West Hertfordshire
I wonder sometimes if we expect people to understand too much.

I do hope your posting is somewhat 'tongue in cheek' To expect someone like a tailor to understand these issues is a tall order, especially as they are all so different in everyone's case.

Buttons might become mysterious unmanageable fastenings, but the alternative probably even more perplexing!


Registered User
Jul 29, 2013
North East
What he might try is to make a pair with an elasticated waist and see how he gets on. They can look fabulous but also be practical too.


Registered User
Oct 18, 2010
North East England
Print out your post and give it to him with a smile....explaining that Dad may be able to say what he would like, however what he needs is a totally different order!!:D
"I do hope your posting is somewhat 'tongue in cheek' To expect someone like a tailor to understand these issues is a tall order, especially as they are all so different in everyone's case."

Yes, there's a tongue-in-cheek element, because probably my biggest coping mechanism is laughing at myself, but also I thought from what he said that the tailor did understand. After all, one person in three has a friend or relative with dementia, so it's actually statistically not ridiculous to assume that at the least he wouldn't make assumptions.

"What he might try is to make a pair with an elasticated waist"

Actually, that's partly what I was hoping for. The sort of hidden elastic you get in some women's trousers where there are side-slit pockets so the elastic is hidden from view when the trousers are in place, plus maybe an elasticated waist at the back where Dad wouldn't notice it and feel awkward about it. (Out of sight, out of mind.)

Today, I'll make a list of what to say.

But I really do think this sort of thing sums up how much we have to learn when our loved one gets dementia, but also how we absorb the information and understanding a bit at a time so that it becomes obvious to us but not obvious to others.

I wish Dad wore off-the-peg trousers. I've looked in shops, but I thought even then that trousers in, say, M&S probably wouldn't have a deep enough crotch for the pants when full.

Maybe disability clothing sites.

I don't stand a chance in hell of getting Dad to wear what I think of as jogging bottoms or similar. He doesn't even wear bags. He thinks plain grey pure wool is as casual as it gets and aches for his pinstripe suits.

You'd never know he started at the bottom and worked his way up. Mind you, I think when he was young, off the peg clothes were so horribly expensive anyway that tailoring probably wasn't very much more expensive. A generation later, a lot of my clothes as a child were home-made and that was the norm, but I don't think if they'd been made by a seamstress, it would have added much to the cost. I just wish that my education had included tailoring men's clothes. I can make dresses, skirts, jackets etc. I can do a very neat job of turning up jacket and trouser sleeves. But I never learnt how to make men's trousers or tailor in bought ones. Maybe now is the time to learn.

(Thank goodness he doesn't wear suits any more and it's only his trousers he likes tailored, not his shirts or anything else!)