They don’t warn you how demoralizing aging is. Things you used to do with ease, without even thinking, suddenly take hours. Little tasks become mountains. Activities you love become impossible. You may be treated like a child by people who are a quarter of your age. In addition, there are so many other undignified changes to endure. Take adult bibs, for one.
Adult bibs are often required for people with disabilities affecting their strength or coordination. This could include the elderly or adults with special needs. Accidentally spilling and dirtying their clothes during a meal is humiliating, but adult bibs are not much better. They often just look like larger versions of baby bibs, and not something an adult would want to wear while dining with others.
Bibs shouldn’t be embarrassing, especially to people who are already going through so much. They are simply a tool and shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of.
Still, dining with family or friends at a restaurant can make anyone loathe to put on a bib. So an Etsy shop came up with a creative solution: The Dignity Bib.
A New Type of Adult Bib: One That Offers Dginity
Etsy shop Fabric Greetings designed a new pattern for an adult bib. The best part? It looks like a regular article of clothing. Anyone can buy their pattern and template to create this bib out of any shirt they already own. They call it the Dignity Bib since it doesn’t look like a bib while still keeping the wearer’s clothes clean, thereby “restoring their dignity.”
“We all know some fellow who is reluctant to wear the needed bib at mealtime. Now he can eat with dignity and no reluctance,” says Fabric Greetings on their Etsy page. “This bib was designed for a friend who had that same problem. He now shows up to dinner with one of his dignity bibs in hand.” 
Once you purchase the pattern, you can make as many bibs as you want, even enough to go with several outfits. Reviews on Etsy marvel at how easy these bibs are to make, so don’t fear if you have limited sewing experience.
“Purchased a shirt at a thrift store. Instructions were easy to follow. The one my daughter completed will give some gentleman dignity while eating. Thank you,” wrote one commenter.
“A very ingenious product. Not only does it aid people with a disability but assists with the reduce/recycle ethos,” said another.
Plus, the Dignity Bib comes with a pocket or two, perfect for storing tissues or pill containers. This is a great perk for women whose clothes often lack proper pockets.
Fabric Greetings allows people to make these bibs from their pattern and sell them as long as they give credit to the designer also. Also, they encourage these sellers to donate a bib to a local nursing home or senior center for every five they sell.
Preserving the Dignity of the Elderly
Researchers have analyzed the findings of studies on this topic to create a better understanding of it. They found four main themes:
An ailing body of mind threatens people’s dignity. Many elderly persons try to pretend everything is okay. They don’t complain, and hide their symptoms from others. They fear losing their autonomy and independence by relying on people, even health care professionals. With feelings of uselessness comes feelings of exclusion. This is especially applicable when those meant to help them show disinterest in doing so.
They fear becoming a nobody. Older adults seem to stop being seen as individuals and therefore lack meaningful relationships with others. They fear losing their sense of selves as their individualism is ignored. Giving them choices and allowing them to be involved in their care and treatment helps them maintain feelings of control and dignity.
Their care must encourage security, control, and dignity. This involves allowing them to participate in their care, make their own decisions, and having their capabilities respected.
They fear feeling trapped and isolated. Often, the elderly at facilities feel they are unable to go or sit anywhere they please, and must instead conform to the routine. Failing to do so can give them the title of an ‘annoying nag’. This can lead to frustration with their lack of freedom and loneliness. Healthcare professionals and caretakers should recognize that ‘nags’ or ‘nuisances’ can be acting courageously against unhealthy power structures in healthcare settings. 
Here are some recommendations to promote dignity in older adults:
- Keep their independence at the core of their health plans, including giving them choices and keeping them involved in their care plans.
- Staff caring for older adults should be trained to support the dignity of their patients. This includes being sensitive to their cultural background and showing overall empathy, kindness, and respect.
- Services that care for the elderly should embrace and invest in new technology that could increase their patient’s independence and quality of life.
- Facilities should also ensure programs in place to identify the negative health effects of isolation and create day centers and befriending schemes to increase socialization. 
- Fabric Greeting. Dignity Bib Pattern Digital File. Etsy.
- Anne Clancy. Nina Simonsen, Johanne Lind. “The meaning of dignity for older adults: A meta-synthesis.” SAGE Journals. July 2, 2020
- Gabriel Ivbijaro, Lucja Kolkiewicz, David Goldberg, Claire Brooks, Yaccub Enum. “Promoting Dignity in the Care of the Older Adult.” Springer Link. July 13, 2019