Back to blog

What Is Adaptive Clothing? Benefits for Older Adults

Clothing is a crucial aspect of our everyday lives. We need functional and practical clothes to get through the day comfortably and safely.

As much as they are essential, getting clothes on and off can sometimes be a challenge, especially for the elderly and those who require special care. As people age or experience declining health, previously easy activities like dressing and undressing can become challenging.

This inability to get dressed can keep people from engaging in activities they love, leading to emotional and physical stress.

Adaptive clothing is a very effective way to overcome this challenge. Adaptive clothing, through various mechanisms and adaptations, can make dressing and undressing easier and less stressful.

What Is Adaptive Clothing?

Adaptive clothing, as the name suggests, is clothing that has been modified and adapted to certain conditions. In this case, it's modifications that make it easier for older adults and people who are disabled to work around their disabilities and easily dress and undress.

Why Adaptive Clothing?

Older adults sometimes have a hard time dressing and undressing. The conventional clothing structure no longer works for them, creating the need for a design suited to them.

Adaptive clothing items are structured and designed in such a way that they are easy to wear and comfortable.

In cases where special care is needed, or actions and movements that were previously easy are now challenging, there is a need for adaptive clothing that accommodates these new limitations.

Adaptive Clothing Options

Various modifications and changes can be made to modify clothing items for older adults. We've sectioned them into groups based on their functions and applications.

There is closure, which involves closing and opening, easy on/off, putting clothes on and off, and adaptive shoes for protecting the feet.

Easy Closure

One of the major challenges faced by the elderly when it comes to dressing and undressing is unbuttoning and unzipping their tops. The two options listed below effectively eliminate this challenge.

  • Velcro Clothing

    Velcro is easier to open compared to traditional zippers. Poor hand-eye coordination, worsening motor functions, and painful joints can make it difficult for older adults to effectively handle a zipper or snap. And on top of that, the strength it takes to pull the zippers can be too much for them.

    There are clothing items sold new with velcro, and it's also possible to modify and adapt existing clothing items with velcro. Individual velcro kits with velcro strips of different sizes can be easily procured and used to modify existing clothing items.

  • Magnetic Closure Clothing

    Magnetic closure operates under the same principle and idea as velcro, making it easy for older adults to open and close segments on clothing items.

    Magnets can be featured on dresses, bras, coats, pants, and shirts. The magnet's strength can also vary depending on the clothing item. Velcro is more popular than magnetic closures, but it's just as effective and easy. It makes it so older adults don't have to waste time trying to work buttons and zippers.

Easy On/Off Clothing (Adaptive Tops and Pants)

Another challenge older adults face is getting clothes on and off, which applies to tops and pants. Due to physical restraints or pains in different parts of the body, the movements required to put regular clothes on and off can be challenging and painful.

In this case, these adaptive clothing options can be very helpful:

  • Open Back Clothing

    Open back adaptive clothing open to the back instead of, or as well as, the front. The opening in the back makes it easy to wear and access medical equipment.

    It also works for older adults who have difficulty lifting their hands, open back tops and shirts can be slipped on with the help of a caregiver without the hands being raised. There are various options for men and women.

    Open-back clothing can be purchased, and you can also get a seamstress to modify already existing clothes.

  • Open At Shoulders

    This one is great for people who can't raise their hands up over their heads. A top with an opening at the shoulders can be slipped on from the feet and then secured. It doesn't require as much movement as a traditional top or shirt.

  • Open Down The Sides (Tops)

    This makes it easy to get tops and shirts on without too much movement. It could open only on the sides or also extend to the shoulders, so the whole side is open. It works for older adults who have difficulty moving their hands to get traditional tops on.

    This way, not much movement is required to get the top on. It only has to be slipped over the head without much movement, and the sides can be snapped down or velcroed.

  • Open Down The Sides (Pants)

    This type of opening also works for pants. Adaptive pants can open partially down the sides or fully down the sides.

    The purpose of the opening down the sides, full or partial, is to create a larger opening that makes them easier to pull up compared to traditional pants with a zipper down the middle. It also works with older adults who require the help of a caregiver. In addition, it makes it easier to get pants on and off with little manipulation of the legs without causing inconvenience or pain.

  • Wheelchair Pants

    Wheelchair pants are pants designed for people who need a wheelchair to get around. It makes it easy to change pants without having to get off the wheelchair.

Adaptive Shoes

Adaptive shoes most times have velcro openings at the top. This makes the shoe easy to wear, it just has to be stepped into, and the velcro is fastened and secured around the foot. They are made in different varieties, so there are various options for different needs.  Click here to learn more shoe-shopping tips

Let us know in the comments below - Which of these have you tried? What other styles of adaptive clothing have you found helpful? 

Looking for more? Subscribe to our blog to get the latest news on senior living - Subscribe