Practical resources to help family caregivers in the midst of caring for someone

Adaptive clothing for seniors and people with limited mobility

If you or the person in your care has ever experienced difficulty with getting arms up and into a shirt, struggled with removing clothing in time for toileting needs, or suffered from clothing that was too restrictive on your movements, then adaptive clothing options could be for you.

What is adaptive clothing?

Adaptive clothing refers to items designed to enable someone with physical limitations or mobility issues to get dressed more easily, either independently, or with the help from a caregiver. Consideration is given to how the clothing is placed on the body, and how the garment is secured.

As a caregiver, being able to dress and disrobe the person in your care with ease is something that can help prevent injury, allows the person in your care to feel more comfortable, and can make your day run a whole lot smoother.

Adaptive clothing comes in a variety of styles to suit your needs. In addition to daytime wear such as pants, tops, and skirts, additional items such as robes, capes, undergarments, and footwear help round out the full wardrobe essentials. There are a wide variety of options available within adaptive clothing designs.

Features of adaptive clothing

  • Shirts
    Open up completely (arms can slide in rather than be lifted overhead)
    Magnetic, snap, overlapping, or hook and loop closures
  • Pants
    Back of pants completely opens
    Legs can be inserted into pants while in a seated position
    Excess fabric in the back is folded over to provide coverage
    Open at the side
    Option for additional nylon handles that allow a caregiver to complete safe transfers
    Reinforced seat
    Elastic waist
  • Footwear
    Use of hook and loop closure
    Closure is adjustable in order to accommodate wide feet and other concerns
    Suitable support
    Slip resistant soles
    Non-constrictive diabetic socks to relieve issues with swollen feet and ankles
    Anti-skid socks

Benefits of adaptive clothing

Most people don’t give much thought to how to get their bodies into the clothes they wear. But, when you’re a caregiver trying to assist the person in your care get dressed, the challenges become obvious. Think about trying to help dress an aging parent, someone with limited mobility, or someone experiencing pain and you’ll quickly realize the benefits of adaptive clothing.

Ease of use isn’t the only benefit of adaptive clothing. Consideration in the design is also given to:

  • Avoid pressure points
  • Aid in weight-bearing lifts or transfers (for example: pants with built-in handles for a caregiver to use when completing transfers)
  • Adjustability in order to fit a range of needs
  • Made from durable, non-irritating materials

Many retailers of adaptive clothing like to point out that although functionality and comfort are the priority in adaptive clothing design, it’s also important to design clothing that is fashionable as well. It’s important that the person wearing the clothing feels good about what they are wearing.

In some cases, adaptive clothing gives the person in your care increased independence because they are able to fasten the adaptive clothing easier than they could regular clothing.

When purchasing adaptive clothing, or altering clothes yourself (for those crafty DIYers), look for materials that are comfortable, well-made, and durable. If possible, have the person in your care help decide which clothing items they would like and try them on before purchasing.

Dressing the person in your care can be made easier with the help of adaptive clothing styles. It’s important to take a look at your options and find the styles that fit your needs.

Even with adaptive clothing, taking care of a person’s daily needs can be challenging. Please reach out for help if you need it.

 

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