Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

Best Adaptive Clothing for ALS Patients

Side view of man seated in wheelchair with open back pants being put on.
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes voluntary muscle action to degenerate over time. ALS makes daily activities, including getting dressed, very difficult as the disease progresses. Thankfully, clothing specially designed for ALS patients can make this process a little easier. Here are seven tips for choosing ALS clothing:

Choose pull-on styles.

If you are still able to dress yourself, pull-on clothing without any closures will be the easiest to put on by yourself. Look for styles with wide necklines and elastic waistbands. The wider they stretch, the less you will have to contort yourself to get into the clothing. If you wear leg braces, make sure that the pants are also designed with wide legs and openings so that they will slide easily over the braces without getting caught on them. To make the pants easier to raise and lower, choose pants with fabric loops sewn into the waistband so that you can slip your fingers into them instead of having to firmly grasp the fabric.

Select lightweight, stretchy fabrics.

Whether you are still mobile or spend most of your day in a wheelchair, you will almost certainly find it more comfortable to wear clothing made of lightweight, stretchy fabrics. These fabrics promote better breathability and reduce sweat, always a plus. They also decrease the chances of chafing, which can be uncomfortable and contribute to pressure sores and other skin issues. To further reduce chafing, seek out garments that are either completely seamless or that place the seams in areas of low pressure (i.e., not on the back where they will press into your wheelchair).

pants with elastic waist and large pockets
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Switch to wheelchair pants.

If you’ve ever had a pair of pants fit perfectly while you are standing, only to have them pinch and pull when you sat down, then you understand why you need pants specially designed for sitting in a wheelchair all day. Not only are wheelchair pants designed for sitting, they also come with an open back and overlapping panel to make it easier to get dressed while remaining in a seated position. They are secured in the back with snaps to keep them in place but still allow for easy changing throughout the day if necessary.

Check Out Our Comfortable ALS Clothing

Try open back shirts.

Open-back styles aren’t just for pants. Open-back shirts can also be a great assisted dressing option for people in wheelchairs or with limited upper body mobility. Our open-back shirts are designed with two completely overlapping panels for dignity and warmth. The snaps are strategically placed to avoid pressure points and are concealed in the shoulder seam so that they aren’t visible. From the front, the shirts look completely normal. No one will ever guess that you are wearing an adaptive shirt. (Shop all wheelchair fashion here.)

flannel shirt with fleece
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Look for magnetic closures.

Closures like zippers and buttons are difficult to work even in the best of times, much less if you have ALS — and, unfortunately, they are very popular in regular clothing. If you want clothing that looks normal but is secretly easy to operate, then try a shirt or jacket that comes with magnetic closures or zippers instead. These tops look totally normal but are actually a breeze to take on and off, whether you dress yourself or have someone else dress you. The magnets give a secure hold, yet are easy to pull apart by grabbing the two sides of the garment.

Choose tops that are short.

Long tops and sweaters usually don’t work for people with ALS. If you are still walking, then long tops tend to get tangled in your legs, potentially causing a fall. If you are in a wheelchair, they will bunch around your waist, causing pressure and chafing. Instead, look for shirts and jackets that end at the top of your hips. You want enough overlap with your pants to preserve your dignity, but not much more fabric than that.

Don’t forget underwear.

If you’re still wearing regular underwear, you need to choose it carefully to make disrobing for the bathroom hassle free. We recommend selecting underwear with large leg openings to make it easier to pull the underwear on and off. Also, look for underwear with pull loops incorporated into the waistband, similar to pants, to make the process even easier. For women, front closure bras may be easier to operate than back closure bras. Others prefer pull-over, wire-free styles, but these can make it more difficult to get into if your upper body has lower mobility, so take that into account.

Ready to buy clothing for ALS patients? We offer a wide selection of ALS clothing for both men and women here at Silverts, as well as other products like non-slip sandals — not to mention free shipping on U.S. orders over $20!

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