Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

What Should I look for In Adaptive Apparel?

Adaptive clothing for seniors
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Adaptive apparel should be designed with one goal in mind – to make dressing easier.

Whether you are a caregiver, someone who struggles with independent dressing, or are simply purchasing for a loved one, there are some important questions to consider.  Many people ask questions like, “What should I look for in adaptive apparel?”  The answer is simple.  What do you look for in regular clothing?  That’s the best place to start!  Let’s consider the look, the feel, and the fit.

Can Adaptive Clothing Look Like Regular Clothes?

Adaptive clothing should benefit the wearer both physically and psychologically.  If the clothing is uncomfortable, rigid, or clearly handicap clothing built for people with disabilities, no one is going to want to wear it.  No one should be able to tell that the clothing is adaptive or special needs clothing. The back snaps of the garment and hook-and-loop closures should be discrete and easy to use. Being well-dressed makes us feel good about ourselves and helps to promote a sense of well-being. Adaptive clothing that is made with care will certainly help the wearer achieve these benefits.

How Should Adaptive Clothing Feel?

Many individuals who require adaptive apparel reside in skilled nursing facilities or long-term care homes.  As a result, the adaptive clothing needs to be made of durable materials that can withstand rigorous cleaning in industrial washing machines.

Similarly, adaptive clothing for individuals who receive home care (and disabled adults) needs to be easy to care for.  Garments are typically constructed using a blend of polyester and cotton to provide easy care and long-lasting comfort.

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For some conditions, particularly with seniors, skin sensitivity is an important concern.  Elderly skin bruises easily due to decreased elasticity. It is essential that the materials used in the clothing are not abrasive to the skin.  Adaptive clothing should have careful attention paid to the stitching along the seams to ensure minimal friction and minimal skin irritation when dressing.

How Does Adaptive Clothing Fit?

Fit, somewhat obviously, is the most nuanced area when it comes to adaptive clothing.  In general, adaptive garments should fit as well as any regular piece of clothing. However, it is important to know that adaptive clothing fits large to accommodate seated dressing and weight fluctuations.

Important concerns unique to this apparel are numerous.  Garments that drape over a wheelchair near the brakes or wheels can be very hazardous.  It is critical for many products, like outerwear and wheelchair capes, that the back is cut shorter than the front to avoid these problems.

Also, always check the location of fasteners to ensure that undue pressure is not applied to pressure points or tender areas of the body which can then produce sores.

Let common sense be your guide while you are learning about adaptive apparel. If it doesn’t look right, or it doesn’t feel right, or it doesn’t fit right, it probably isn’t right.  Choose clothing providers with good return policies, especially as you are getting used to a new way of dressing, to ensure the wearer always feels good about their clothes!

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