“My mother and her caregiver have a daily battle over getting dressed. She doesn’t want to wear hospital gowns or shapeless sweats all day, but she also doesn’t like the pain that dressing and undressing causes. I’ve heard about adaptive clothing for seniors, but I don’t know much about it. Is this something I should look into?” –Jill from Powers Park


What a great question! Other clients have had the same issue: mom or dad having difficulty dressing or caregivers frustrated with cumbersome pants and shirts. As people age, they may struggle with wearing the clothing they have worn for years, even decades. Adaptive clothing for seniors is an excellent option for loved ones with physical limitations, sensory sensitivities, mobility issues, and even cognitive challenges. Let’s look a little closer at adaptive clothing and how it makes life easier for both seniors and their caregivers.

What Is Adaptive Clothing for Seniors?

Any article of clothing that forgoes traditional closures like shoe strings, buttons, and zippers falls under the adaptive category. Some examples include pants with a higher rise in the back for coverage while in a wheelchair or supportive shoes that you can slip on and fasten with zippers or Velcro. Adaptive clothing can include shirts, pants, blouses, dresses, shoes, undergarments, and even accessories.

Some major retailers and fashion designers are getting into the adaptive clothing market, which means you have plenty of options and styles to keep your loved one more comfortable and pain-free when dressing and undressing. You may want to watch your loved one dress themselves or talk with a caregiver to understand better what dressing difficulties exist to determine which types of adaptive clothing can help.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Adaptive Clothing?

You may not be aware of how much time your loved one spends trying to attend to activities of daily living. Getting out of bed, brushing teeth, toileting, and dressing may now involve assistance because of physical or mobility limitations. If your senior resides in a facility, they may have to wait until a caregiver is available to help them with grooming and dressing.

Adaptive clothing for seniors takes a fraction of the time that dressing in regular clothing does. Caregivers often ask families for simpler garments if seniors cannot move their bodies and limbs in positions conducive to dressing, and some of those movements can cause pain unintentionally.

With adaptive clothing, seniors can stay independent longer as they can dress themselves more easily, minimize bathroom accidents, or assist caregivers in the process of performing daily activities. That sense of independence can also foster pride and positivity, which is always a bonus for seniors prone to depression and anxiety as their physical and mental abilities decline.

Another benefit is specifically for aging people experiencing cognitive changes. Some adaptive clothing is anti-strip, like jumpsuits and rompers, to prevent seniors from undressing inappropriately. These adaptive articles of clothing provide more dignity to people who may not always receive the respect they deserve as human beings, especially if they are agitated or unable to express any discomfort their clothing causes.

What Should You Look For When Shopping for Adaptive Clothing?

While finding adaptive clothing for seniors in brick-and-mortar stores is not an easy task, you have the variety and convenience of the internet at your fingertips. Browse online to find your loved one’s favorite styles and colors, and you may just be surprised at how much variety exists, especially with brands you already know and trust.

Consider other factors that may apply to your senior, such as sensitivity that makes particular fabrics or tags irritating. Some adaptive clothing is specific for people in wheelchairs, while other shirts, pants, and underwear are best for people who wear medical equipment.

Hopefully, by replacing older, traditional apparel with adaptive clothing for seniors, you can make the daily dressing battle a thing of the past and restore dignity and confidence for your loved one.

Good luck!


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