In Paris

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Malinda was notorious for “shopping” in other residents’ closets. Because she felt like the whole floor was her house, she had no qualms about going into other people’s rooms and picking up their stuff.

More often than not, Malinda had at least 2 layers of clothing on. At least one pair of pants, usually a sweater and a jacket or coat of some kind, a random assortment of other items—belts, necklaces, handbags. 

Malinda didn’t want anyone to help her get dressed. In my mind, even though she looked slightly disheveled, the issue felt minor. She was happy, and she was wearing what she wanted to wear. 

Her family, however, didn’t feel the same way. “Can’t someone fix her outfit? She’s wearing three coats!” they said.

“Hey, Malinda,” I called to her up the hall. “You have two different pairs of shoes on. Do you want to change them?”

“What? No! This is all the rage in Paris,” she exclaimed.

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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