Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

5 Tips for Dressing Elderly Loved Ones

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Paralysis, lowered mobility, and other physical challenges make it difficult for older adults to get in and out of their clothes. At Silverts, we believe getting seniors dressed should be the least of a caregiver’s struggles. That’s why people all over the world trust us to put their aging parents and patients in safe, stylish clothing that is easy to wear. With over 85 years under our belts, Silverts has plenty of knowledge and experience in assisted dressing. Here are our tips for dressing elderly loved ones, as collected through first-hand experience and numerous consultations with clients and health care professionals.

Understand the needs you are trying to address

First, think about why dressing your senior family member or patient is a challenge. Is their limited mobility affecting their ability to raise or slip their limbs into sleeves and pant legs? Is swelling posing a problem in getting their feet to fit into shoes? Determine all of these needs before tackling a solution.

Try Adaptive Clothing

Adaptive clothing is specially designed to make dressing easier and more comfortable. There are a number of products – including tops, bottoms, undergarments, and shoes – with built-in features to address older adults’ specific needs.

If they are independent dressers, look for apparel that features closures that are easy to use with limited dexterity, such as VELCRO® tabs or magnetic snap buttons. If they need assistance getting in and out of clothing, look for tops that open from the back and bottoms that stretch to fit. Other needs can be met with more products with special features.

Going up in size is NOT the answer

A common mistake we see with caregivers is the tendency to buy clothing and footwear in larger sizes just to accommodate swelling, limited mobility, and weight fluctuations. When apparel does not fit well, it can lead to injuries and falls. This is especially dangerous when going up in shoe sizes, as feet only change in width with swelling.

Adaptive clothing and footwear is always a better, safer, and more comfortable option. Wide width or adjustable shoes adapt to fit swollen feet. Elastic waist pants are great for dealing with the weight fluctuations that come with aging.

Keep it simple

When it comes to clothing elderly loved ones, keeping things simple makes the process of getting them dressed and undressed that much smoother. Pare down their wardrobe by getting rid of excess pieces; too many choices can be overwhelming for those with dementia or symptoms like impaired memory and judgment.

Don’t forget the footwear

We often find people overlook the importance of proper footwear for older adults. Aside from the aforementioned foot swelling, other shoe-related concerns arise with age, for instance proneness to falls and poor circulation. Non-slid socks and shoes improve traction indoors and outdoors. A great pair of slippers can also add warmth, support, and comfort when extremities feel cold.

Do you have additional tips for dressing seniors? Let us know in the comments section below!


  • Chris Peckham says:

    i have recently been buying the adaptive clothing for my mom and both mom and the caregiver find the clothes to be great and make it far easier and less stressful to assist mom in dressing. The one thing that we have found is that the nice coloured spring/summer pants come only in gaberdine which are not stretchy. We find the pant legs to be too narrow. I have modified some of her non-stretch pants to be bell bottoms but it would be nicer to have either a stretchy fabric or a wider leg.

  • Ruth Lee says:

    I have several issues that would need to be addressed (added to). I will be 75 in 5 short days. I am diabetic, have degenerative disk disease (lumbar), VERY narrow feet with a high arch, neuropathy, & osteoarthritis. My ankles swell but my heels & feet are very narrow which, combined with my high arch, makes it almost impossible to get proper fitting shoes. They have to lace up (or buckle/velcro) to keep them from slipping on my heels which makes them hurt the top of my foot (the arch problem). They would need to be adjustable around the ankle (soft, sturdy material not hard leather), have a good arch support, room for toes to “wiggle”. Also I LOVE color! Not just black & brown! Worst of all I have a very low income! Mostly I have to “make do” with what I can get!
    I live alone (with my cat & dog) & so far don’t have any problems dressing myself. I agree with the problem of fabrics for clothes, especially pants. Knit fabrics are best as they “give”. While things like gaberdine look nice & are “dressy”, they are more difficult to get on & are uncomfortable to wear.

  • Melissa Dohms says:

    I have been buying shoes here for my mother in law who deals with edema occasionally, the adaptive approach with the Velcro is very handy. Their service is quite prompt, I order online and it comes quite quickly.

  • Joy says:

    Elastic on my waist gives me nausea. I have found some maternity pants with the loose, stretchy bands work better.

  • Thank you for sharing this will help me with my task

  • This gave me a real love for the elderly. As an RN, I loved working with the older population. This post is so compassionate and full of helpful information.

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