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Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Adaptive Clothing Takes the Stress Out of Dressing

What kinds of clothing options are available to individuals who have a difficult time dressing?

The chore of dressing and undressing in traditional clothing can be difficult, time-consuming and even painful for millions of people with certain health and mobility difficulties. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of special clothing, known as "adaptive clothing," that can help with most dressing challenges. Here are some of the many types of adaptive clothing options that could help.

What is Adaptive Clothing?

Adaptive clothing is specially designed garments for people with mobility issues, disabilities and cognitive challenges who have a difficult time getting dressed. Adaptive clothing incorporates discreet design features to make dressing and undressing easier, while still having the outward appearance of typical clothing.

For self-dressing individuals who may have impacted dexterity, there are pants, shirts, dresses and outerwear made with Velcro or magnetic closures. Alternate clothing closures can be easier to fasten and unfasten than buttons and zippers. Be aware that magnetic closures are not suitable for those who have pacemakers.

In addition, there are adaptive pants with zippers or snaps on both sides of the pants that are easier to put on. A wide range of rear closure shirts, tops and dresses with Velcro or snap fasteners in the back are available and are helpful for individuals who cannot raise their arms over their head.

For wheelchair users there are higher back and elastic waistband pants that help prevent the garments from slipping down. Pants with fabric overlaps at the seat to allow for easier toileting access are also available.

For people with tactile sensitivity, you can purchase garments that have soft and stretchy fabrics without tags. Some garments are sewn with flat seams to help prevent chafing or sensitivity. There are one-piece jumpsuits that have back-zipper access to prevent the wearer from disrobing inappropriately, which may be useful if the individual suffers from cognitive challenges.

Where to Shop?

Because each person's dressing needs and style is so specific, finding appropriate adaptive clothing can be difficult. Recently, mainstream clothing stores have started offering a line of adaptive clothing for adults that combines fashion and functionality. However, in-store options are often limited. To get a bigger selection, visit a store's website and type in "adaptive clothing" in their search engine.

You can also find a large selection at online stores that specialize in adaptive clothing. Some companies have been selling adaptive clothing for decades and offer a wide variety of garments to accommodate almost any need, condition or style, for independent self-dressers and for individuals who need help. Some other adaptive clothing sites sell clothing primarily designed for wheelchair users.

Velcro fastening shoes, instead of shoelaces, have long been a popular option and can be found in most local shoe stores. Some other new lines of adaptive shoes make fashionable sneakers and comfortable walking shoes that slip on hands-free. Some brands also make uniquely designed zip-on shoes.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published June 17, 2022
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