8 Ways Adaptive Clothing Benefits Both Patients and Caregivers
Adaptive clothing is designed for elderly or infirm people as well as those with physical disabilities who may experience difficulty dressing themselves. This difficulty is usually due to one or both of the following: an inability to manipulate closures (think buttons and zippers) or limited motion that affects their ability to dress themselves.
The recent rise of adaptive clothing is making inclusive dressing available to more people than ever. But adaptive clothing doesn’t just help those who wear it. It also benefits their caregivers as well. Here are eight ways that adaptive clothing helps both patients and their caregivers:
It can reduce pressure and pain.
Many patients, especially those who have limited mobility, find it uncomfortable and even painful to wear regular clothes. Thick fabric seams, such as those in denim jeans, can put a lot of pressure on the body if you sit or lie down for extended periods of time. Patients with joint pain may also find it difficult to maneuver in and out of tight “regular” clothing. For post-operative patients, everyday garments may also put too much pressure on the surgical site–or chafe against it–resulting in discomfort and pain. That’s why adaptive clothing features minimal seams for ultimate comfort and wide openings that make dressing a less taxing experience, even with limited joint mobility.
It helps patients stay independent longer.
As seniors age, they may begin to lose fine motor control and struggle with complicated tasks such as unbuttoning a shirt. While they may still be able to get into and out of the pants or shirt, that doesn’t help them much because they can’t work the closure. By providing easy-to-work closures such as magnetic buttons and Velcro tabs, adaptive clothing allows patients to keep dressing themselves for as long as possible, and thus maintain their general sense of independence.
It takes the frustration and stress out of dressing.
Think about how long it takes you to put on your scrubs in the morning. A minute? Maybe two? Well, imagine if it took you much longer than that, or if you could manage to get your pants on, but couldn’t zip them up. You’d be really frustrated with yourself and also your clothing, wouldn’t you? While many of us take dressing for granted and hardly have to think about taking clothes on and off, as you age, it can become a real chore that involves a lot of effort and time—which is understandably exasperating. Adaptive clothing takes some of the frustration out of the process, reducing the stress for both patient and caregiver.
It gives caregivers confidence.
If caregivers are new to working with seniors, or if they’re volunteer family members who have never been professionally trained, it can be really disheartening to watch a senior struggle to dress themselves. And that discouragement only increases if you’re the one helping them and they’re still frustrated by the dressing process. For some families, these everyday activities can be the last straw that convinces them it’s time to look at nursing homes. But adaptive clothing can give caregivers and patient’s families confidence in their ability to keep caring for the patient at home as long as possible.
It helps protect patient’s dignity.
Relying on someone else to dress and undress you every morning and evening can feel very undignified, whether it’s your child or a paid professional. Adaptive clothing is designed to protect a patient’s dignity while a caregiver dresses and undresses them. For example, generous back overlaps on the garments provide coverage for wheelchair transfers.
It’s easier and less time-consuming.
Beyond its other benefits, adaptive clothing is simply more efficient to put on and take off. If dressing your patient or loved one has become a time-consuming task that takes up much of your morning and evening routine, you can get back some of that time by switching to adaptive clothing. Struggle-free clothing with Velcro and magnetic closures make getting dressed a breeze. In fact, it’s so convenient, you might quickly get tired of wrestling the tiny buttons on your own clothes.
It keeps patients and caregivers safe.
Dressing a patient with limited or no mobility presents hazards to both the patient and the caregiver. Lifting a patient incorrectly or without a gait belt puts you at risk for straining your back, and getting tangled in the clothes can lead to tripping or falling. Adaptive clothing often reduces or completely limits the need to lift the patient, and it also makes it easier to guide the clothing on and off without the fabric getting gnarled. Nurses are at a significant risk for occupational injuries, especially back pain, so doing anything you can do to reduce the odds of an accident is a good thing.
It offers convenient access for changing or checks.
Sometimes, you’ll need quick access through a patient’s clothing, whether it’s to check a surgical site or to change them in case of incontinence. Fortunately, there any many different adaptive clothing solutions available, with open back designs for incontinence, paralysis, Alzheimer’s and dementia dressing and more. These openings make it easy to examine the patient without making them fully undress, and to quickly change them when their clothes become soiled.
Whether you’re a caregiver or a family member, adaptive clothing could be a great choice for your patient or loved one. Keep these eight benefits in mind as you consider how to make the caretaking experience more efficient, positive and dignified.