When a loved one struggles with fine motor control or other physical and cognitive challenges, it can make getting dressed in ordinary clothes difficult. As a caregiver, if you’re assisting your family member with dressing, you may be in search of clothing options that make the process easier or allow your loved one more independence. In the past, adaptive clothes were hard to find, offered limited choices, were basic, and focused on function without consideration to style. Now many more options are available to fit specific needs or fashion preferences.

Here are some common features and adaptations for clothing that may ease dressing and undressing for those needing assistance.

Alternative fasteners

Traditional clothes fasteners like buttons and even zippers can be difficult even for a caretaker trying to help someone quickly and easily secure clothing. It takes a lot of fine motor control and hand and finger strength to grab and manipulate small parts to fasten clothing together. Common alternatives to simplify this both for caregivers in assisting and for individuals to dress themselves include fabric and magnet fasteners along the seam. These types of fasteners can also be opened more quickly in case of an emergency.

Tommy Hilfiger has an adaptive line with many features, including a whole section for easy closures like magnets, fabric fasteners, and one-handed zippers.

Buck & Buck is an adaptive clothing line that includes shirts for men that look like button-ups but use fabric fasteners in the front and even have velcro cuffs.

Target has adaptive clothing, such as the Velcro Side Fastener Bra with front closure for ease.

Openings on the back and side

As a caregiver, it can be easier to dress someone when the fasteners are on the back or sides, providing the wearer more privacy. In addition, clothes that open on the sides or back are much easier to put on and take off, even when the wearer is seated or laying down. Some pants also have back panels covered by a flap, making it easier to change adult diapers or use the restroom without undressing. Additionally, open-back clothing makes it more difficult for older people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive challenges to remove their clothing in inappropriate situations.

Silverts has Alzheimer’s Kits for women and men that include anti-strip jumpsuits with closures on the back.

Ovidis has adaptive pants with back panel access, like the Sophie pants for women.

Buck & Buck has a large selection of all types of clothing with closures on the back.

Joe and Bella has an adaptive line with rear closure clothes, like the Open-back Adaptive Fleece Sweatshirt, eliminating the need to pull it over the head.

Workaround medical devices

Elderly adults may require specific medical devices like braces, catheters, monitors, or even wheelchairs, which interfere with traditional clothing. Therefore, some clothes are explicitly designed to work around wearable devices. Such clothing makes dressing and undressing easier and more comfortable while not interfering with medical function or needing to check devices.

Silverts has wheelchair-specific clothing, like the Wheelchair Gabardine Pants for Men. These allow you to dress from a seated position and are designed to be comfortable and keep everything covered while sitting.

Elder Wear and Aids also has a wheelchair-friendly adaptive clothing section with pants, dresses, shirts, and more.

Buck & Buck offers urinary catheter clothing, which allows for easier access when emptying or checking the collection bag, along with other helpful adaptations.

Adaptive footwear

Whether you need outdoor shoes for leaving the house or slippers to prevent falls indoors, proper footwear that’s easy to get on and off and is also comfortable is essential. Having the right pair of shoes can make the difference in older adults’ comfort and ability to stay mobile and active. Shoes should have a wide opening to be easy to get on and off and have a simple fastener. They should also have enough room for potential swelling, be stable and nonslip, padded to reduce foot stress, easy to walk in, and fit around braces or any other devices around the foot.

Nike has an adaptive sneaker line called Flyease that is easy to get on and off one-handed.

Zappos is a large shoe retailer which has a section where you can filter for all the adaptive shoe brands they offer in one place.

Those with diabetes may benefit from Silverts diabetic footwear.

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