For many seniors and other individuals with temporary or permanent disabilities, dressing can be a real challenge. They may have difficulty dressing themselves because of an inability to handle buttons and zippers, or because of a lack of a full range of motion required for self dressing. Even when a caregiver is available, people would rather want to stay independent as long as they can and perform dressing tasks by themselves.
Is there any way to make dressing easier for people? Yes. There is adaptive clothing now available that is designed specifically for people with physical disabilities.
How does adaptive clothing work?
Adaptive clothing addresses most common problems of people whose independent dressing skills are impacted by aging or illness such as Arthritis, Alzheimers Disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s Disease and Stroke.
No more buttons!
Instead of buttons, designers use elastic waists and velcro closures to make it easier putting on and taking off clothing. They also make closures more accessible by putting them to the front or to the side of the item.
Easy to dress when you are seated
Clothing is designed so that it can be slipped on and fastened from the front, back or side. This makes it easier to dress if you are seated, lying down or can’t lift arms or legs.
Adapted for wheelchair use
Individuals with limited mobility will be more comfortable using clothing that is adapted for wheelchair use. Sleeves can be adjusted for sitting and movement by the user.
The design of the shirt is shorter at the back and reaches just to seat. On a jacket, it should be cut shorter at the front and slope down at the sides to the back.
Where is adaptive clothing available?
Unfortunately, there are not many local retail stores that offer a selection of adaptive clothing. Below are a few links to several online stores that sell adaptive clothing.
Canadian Silvert’s is the biggest and oldest online store for senior care disability apparel. They have a very large selection of adaptive clothing and shoes, including accessories and plus size clothing. You can find clothes designed specifically for specific individual needs. The clothes are designed for comfort rather than fashion.
Besides adaptive apparel, this California based company offers incontinence products, wheelchair products, and clothing protectors.
Buck and Buck is a US-based company that offers a wide selection of adaptive clothing, shoes and accessories.
This small company was established by fashion designer Maura Horton whose husband suffers from Parkinson’s disease. She designs dress shirts for men and women with limited mobility whose fingers aren’t nimble enough to unbutton the shirt. She solved this problem in a fashionable way using magnets instead of buttons. The magnets are strong enough to keep a garment attached but weak enough so it could be easily removed. Her shirts have been a great success since they hit the market.
Getting dressed everyday can pose a myriad of problems to elderly people who struggle to use their hands. Adaptive clothing is one way to answer these issues. There are multiple brands listed that are already providing some of these items that are still fashionable, yet much easier to navigate with limited hand mobility. The idea that some problems can be completely avoided instead of trying to circumvent a problem with some other method is a powerful one. The challenge is to let go of what we are programmed to see as “normal” so that we can create something that is actually practical and problem-free.