October 23, 2023 by Dean Bellefeuille

A senior looks in the mirror as he gets dressed with adaptive clothing for older adults.

What was going through your head when you put on your clothes this morning? Staying comfy? Looking stylish? A special piece attached to a sweet memory? The clothes we wear are an integral part of our identity, and the simple act of choosing what to wear and being able to put it on is crucial to our independence. When the effects of growing older or a health condition like arthritis make it difficult to self-dress, adaptive clothing is a wonderful way to maintain self-sufficiency.

What Types of Adaptive Clothing for Older Adults Are Best?

There are several key features to look for in adaptive clothing, including:

How it fastens: It’s more difficult to handle zippers or buttons than magnets, Velcro, or snaps.

How easy it is to clean: Choose machine wash/tumble dry clothing made from fabric that resists wrinkles and will be most comfortable and convenient.

How it’s put on: Raising the arms and pulling a tight sweater over the head is much more difficult than slipping on a cardigan. For someone in a wheelchair or with other mobility issues, clothing that opens in the back or on the side is an even better choice.

How restrictive it is: For people with fluctuating weight, clothes with an elastic waistband or adjustable straps are less restrictive.

How it helps prevent falls: Keep footwear in mind too! Adaptive shoes are often slip-resistant and can accommodate swelling or a brace.

How Will It Fit?

Finding clothes that fit well and are comfortable can be a challenge, especially if you’re ordering clothing online. Here’s how to achieve the best results:

Measure first. Take a measurement of the person’s hips, waist, inseam, and for women, bust.

Check the charts. Many online adaptive clothing sites will provide size charts. In addition to the person’s body measurements, pay attention to whether the garments will have a relaxed or slim fit.

Try it on. Whenever possible, the best way to ensure a good fit is by trying the items on and having the person move around to check for flexibility, mobility, and comfort. If a piece of clothing misses the mark in any of those areas, return it or talk to a tailor or seamstress about altering it.

Remember that while adaptive clothing for older adults is meant to make getting dressed easier, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for frumpy frocks! Sit down together and look at colors, patterns, and styles online so the older adult can choose the items they like best.

Contact At Home Independent Living for further assistance with your adaptive clothing needs. We’re here to offer tried and true tips, take older adults shopping, provide support with getting dressed, and much more. Serving Syracuse, Camillus, Clay, and the surrounding areas, you can contact us any time online or at (315) 579-HOME (4663) to learn more.