Adaptive clothing takes the stress out of dressing

Dear Wise Senior: What kinds of clothing options are available for seniors with reduced mobility who have difficulty dressing? — looking for mom

Dear Looking: The drudgery of dressing and undressing in traditional clothing can be difficult, time-consuming and even painful for millions of people with certain health and mobility issues. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of special clothing known as “adaptive clothing” that can help with most clothing challenges. Here’s what you need to know.

What is adapted clothing?

Adaptive clothing is clothing specifically designed for people with mobility issues, disabilities and cognitive challenges who have difficulty getting dressed. This type of garment incorporates low-profile design features to facilitate dressing and undressing, while maintaining the outward appearance of typical garments.

Depending on your mom’s needs, here are some examples of the many types of adaptive clothing options that might help.

For self-dressing seniors who have Parkinson’s disease or other disabilities affecting dexterity, there are pants, shirts, dresses and outerwear made with Velcro or magnetic closures that replace buttons and zippers. These are much easier to attach and detach. But be aware that magnetic closures are not suitable for people with pacemakers.

For those who are disabled or have a limited range of motion and need help getting dressed, there are adapted pants with zippers or snaps on both sides of the pants that are easier to put on. put on. Likewise, a wide range of back closure shirts, tops and dresses are equipped with Velcro or snaps in the back. These are particularly suitable for those who cannot raise their arms above their head.

For wheelchair users, pants with higher backs and elastic waistbands prevent the garment from slipping. Other pants with fabric overlaps at the seat allow easier access to the toilet.

For people with tactile sensitivities, there are tagless garments made of soft, stretchy fabrics. They are sewn with flat seams to help prevent chafing.

And for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, one-piece suits with back zipper access prevent the wearer from inappropriately stripping.

Where to shop?

Because each person’s clothing needs and style are so specific, finding appropriate tailored clothing can take time and effort.

Recently, mainstream clothing stores such as JCPenney (, Target (, and Tommy Hilfiger ( have started offering adaptive clothing that combines fashion and function, although their options in store are limited. To see a larger selection, visit the stores’ websites and type “suitable clothing” into their search engine.

You can also find a wide selection at online stores specializing in adaptive clothing, such as Buck & Buck ( and Silverts ( Both of these companies have been selling adaptive clothing for decades and offer a variety of garments to meet almost any need, condition, or style.

Other recommended adaptive clothing sites: Joe & Bella (, Ovidis ( and IZ Adaptive (, which sells clothing primarily designed for wheelchair users.

And, if your mom needs shoes that fit, shoes with Velcro closures (instead of laces) have long been a popular option and can be found at most local shoe stores.

New lines of adaptive shoes that he might be interested in include Kiziks ( and Zeba (, which make fashionable sneakers and comfortable walking shoes that slip on hands-free. Billy Footwear (billy and Friendly Shoes ( make uniquely designed zipper shoes.

Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” show and the author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send questions to Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit

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