Adaptive clothing takes the stress out of dressing

The drudgery of dressing and undressing in traditional clothing can be difficult, time-consuming and even painful for millions of people with health and mobility challenges. Luckily, a wide variety of specialty clothing, known as “adaptive clothing,” can help with most clothing challenges. Here are just a few of the many types of adaptive clothing options that might help.

What is adapted clothing? Adaptive clothing is clothing specifically designed for people with mobility issues, disabilities and cognitive challenges who have difficulty getting dressed. Adaptive garments incorporate low-profile design features to facilitate dressing and undressing, while maintaining the outward appearance of typical garments.

For people who dress themselves and have an impact on dexterity, there are pants, shirts, dresses and outerwear made with Velcro or magnetic closures. Other clothing fasteners may be easier to fasten and unfasten than buttons and zippers. Be aware that magnetic closures are not suitable for wearers of pacemakers.

In addition, there are suitable pants with zippers or snaps on both sides of the pants that are easier to put on. A wide range of back closure shirts, tops and dresses with velcro or snaps in the back are available, useful for people who cannot lift their arms above their head.

For wheelchair users, there are pants with higher backs and elastic waistbands that help prevent clothes from slipping. Pants with fabric overlaps at the seat to allow easier access to the toilet are also available.

People with tactile sensitivity can buy clothes that have soft, stretchy fabrics without tags. Some garments are sewn with flat seams to help prevent chafing or tenderness. There are one-piece suits that have access to a back zipper to prevent the wearer from undressing inappropriately, which can be useful if the individual suffers from cognitive problems.

Where to shop? Since each person’s clothing needs and style are so specific, it can be difficult to find suitable tailored clothing. Recently, mainstream clothing stores have started offering a line of adult adaptive clothing that combines fashion and function. However, in-store options are often limited. To get a larger selection, visit a store’s website and type “adapted clothing” into their search engine.

You can also find a large selection in online stores specializing in adaptive clothing. Some companies have been selling these clothes for decades and offer a wide variety of clothes to meet almost any need, condition or style, for independent self-dressers and people who need help. Some other adaptive clothing sites sell clothing primarily designed for wheelchair users.

Velcro-fastening shoes, instead of laces, have long been a popular option and can be found at most local shoe stores. Some other new lines offer fashionable sneakers and comfortable walking shoes that can be put on hands-free. Some brands also make uniquely designed zipper shoes.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, regular contributor to NBC’s “Today Show” and author of “The Savvy Living.” All links in this article are offered as a service and not an endorsed product. These articles are offered as a useful and informative service and may not always reflect the official position of this organization on certain topics.

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