Getting Dressed with ALS
Living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gherig’s disease, or motor neuron disease) is undoubtedly challenging. With the nerve cells, brain and spinal cord slowly deteriorating, it becomes more and more difficult to control the body’s muscles as the disease progresses. Dressing and undressing is one every day task that can be quite difficult for people with limited mobility. Here are some ways to making getting dressed easier for those with ALS.
Clothing made specifically for people who use wheelchairs and have certain physical limitations has a huge impact on dressing ease. These items are designed with clever features like open backs, more room in the seated area and special fasteners in such a way that they look just like regular clothing. Adaptive clothing is not typically available in your local department store, but can be purchased over the phone or website.
Special devices or commonly used items with modifications make a huge difference in assisting a person with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Popular objects for ALS patients are those that help with dressing and undressing. They are designed to save somebody with motor neuron disease and/or their caregiver(s) time and energy performing the menial task. These devices can get very task-specific; there’s something for almost every need like putting on hosiery or doing up buttons. They may have specialized grips, supports, voice-activated controls, and more.
Home Adaptations & Furniture
Modifications both big and small to an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis sufferer’s home is absolutely necessary, especially when the disease has progressed quite a bit. This is because it can be highly strenuous to move from room to room or change positions when one’s muscle control has declined. It even poses a threat to the safety of both the patient and the caregiver! There are tons of specialty home adaptions and furniture in the market. You can even adjust existing homewares to be more efficient yourself.
Caregiver Dressing Tips
Having a caregiver to dress and undress a person with Lou Gehrig’s is common, if not universal. Here are some suggestions for making it as smooth of a process, aside from the above tools, as possible:
- Allow him or her to maintain as much independence as possible, for as long as possible. Perhaps your loved one only needs help with bottoms, or really values their privacy. Look into independent dressing solutions and aids for specific functions.
- Assuming dressing happens during the day and undressing in the evening, aim to dress your loved one or change them into their nightwear as early as possible. When the person is less tired or their medications haven’t kicked in yet, it can be less stressful to perform the tasks.
- Don’t just go up in size assuming larger clothing with larger openings is easier to put on a person. It’s dangerous to have so much excess fabric on the body, and it can make them look and feel frumpy.
- Frequently purge the closet of anything that no longer works for them, whether that’s due to style or functionality. It can become quite frustrating to sift through so many options.
Did we miss anything? How do you manage getting dressed with ALS? Let us know in the comments section below.