Adaptive Clothing Information for Disabled and Elderly
Adaptive Clothing Should Benefit the Wearer Physically and Psychologically
Published: 2015-03-25 - Updated: 2023-03-21
Author: Disabled World | Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Library: Assistive Technology Publications
Synopsis: Information on adaptive clothing for people with disabilities, seniors, and those with mobility challenges. Adaptive clothing is garments and footwear specially designed for people with disabilities. For some conditions, particularly with the elderly, the materials used mustn't be abrasive to the skin.
- Adaptive Clothing
Adaptive clothing, or adapted clothes, are defined as clothing, garments, and footwear specially designed for people with physical disabilities, the elderly, the infirm, and post-surgery patients who may have difficulty dressing due to an inability to manipulate closures, such as buttons and zippers, or due to a lack of a full range of motion required for self dressing, e.g., people living with arthritis, quadriplegics and paraplegics. Adapted clothing also makes dressing and undressing patients easier for caregivers, nurses, and hospice staff and provides nonrestrictive comfort to the wearer.
There are many styles and medical purposes for disabled clothing - mostly garments with zippers that provide access to parts of the body that would otherwise require the clothes to be removed entirely. With adaptive clothing, a disabled or elderly patient can retain dignity, provide some level of self-care, and experience the added comfort of quicker access to medical appliances and needs for both them and a nurse or physician.
For further information see our List of Adaptive Clothing Terms
Who Wears Adaptive Clothing?
Over 55 million people in the United States have some disability, some of them with challenges requiring a high level of care by others. Most people from any walk of life know someone with a disability, and many of these disabilities can make even simple tasks like getting dressed very difficult. Medical adaptive clothes are useful for those with limited mobility (temporary or permanent) and medical conditions, including the elderly, the disabled, post-surgery needs, nursing homes, special needs, joint therapy, incontinence, fitness needs, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, stroke victims, people living with arthritis, and others.
What to Look For When Purchasing Adaptive Clothes
- For some conditions, particularly with the elderly, the materials used mustn't be abrasive to the skin.
- Dignity is important; ensure the designs bear this in mind. Generous overlapping at the rear with night and day gowns and high-backed waistbands for those in wheelchairs etc.
- The fabrics used need to be of the highest quality and, therefore, withstand rigorous cleaning and usage.
- Check where fasteners are located so that undue pressure is not applied to tender areas of the body which can then produce sores etc.
- Garments that hang near wheelchair brakes or wheels can be hazardous.
- Split shoulders allow dressing without placing the clothing over the wearer's head, as the garment can be donned around the person.
- Adaptive clothing should benefit the wearer physically and psychologically; quality clothing often makes us feel good about ourselves, promoting well-being.
- Feels like normal clothes: Any disabled or mobility Garments should fit as well as any regular piece of clothing (albeit usually a bit wider in certain areas to stow away medical enhancements). But they should feel natural and comfortable for the wearer.
- Looks like normal clothes: There is a trend in medical wear for more fashionable disabled clothing and garments. This is true in graduated compression stockings, undergarments, swimwear for ostomates, and naturally adaptive clothing. Medical enhancements to adaptive clothing should be discreet modifications and lightweight additions that do not bulk the garments and allow unique enhancements like zippers to be easily tucked away and hidden.
- Built to last medically and fashionably: A good adaptive garment will have medical benefits that last as long as the life of the garment, so all adaptive clothes will go through many additional processes in development to enhance medical uses and to produce a durable, lasting piece of clothing.
- Broad Range of Sizes: People come in all shapes and sizes, so clothing should come in all shapes and sizes. The perfect size of adaptive clothes will make all the difference for the best mobility and style.
When Purchasing Garments Online or Overseas
In clothing, clothing size is defined as the label sizes used for male and female garments sold off the shelf. There are various standard sizing systems around the world depending on the garments, such as dresses, tops, skirts, and trousers - as well as size differences by country.
For those wishing to buy cheaper adaptive clothing - or even formal shoes and clothes items - from China, Japan, Mexico, Italy, etc., be sure to study our Male and Female Clothes Size Conversion Charts before ordering, as international standards regarding clothing sizes can vary greatly from country to country.
Neck Size: Measurement Chart and Health Information - Information on how to measure human neck size. Includes collar sizes measurement chart in inches and centimeters and possible health implications relating to larger neck sizes.
Designing and Making Adaptive Clothing at Home
- Pinterest: Provides a wide range of pictures with links to adapted clothing projects you can do from home.
- Adaptive Clothing for Elderly and People with Disabilities Forum: Provides a place to post questions and solutions for sewing your adaptive clothing.
- Fashion Freaks: The Fashion Freaks website is filled with basic patterns, sewing instructions, descriptions on how to adapt ready-made clothes, and so much more - all suited for wheelchair users.
- The Seams: An independent podcast and occasional story series for NPR, explores the business of fashion for the disabled.
Sew Much Comfort
*Sew Much Comfort is a nonprofit organization of over 1,000 volunteers who provide adaptive clothing for injured servicemembers at no cost. They alter clothing to meet the unique needs of those recovering from their wounds or create clothing from scratch. Since its inception, Sew Much Comfort has shipped more than 75,000 articles of clothing to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals and recovery centers around the world. For more information about Sew Much Comfort, visit their Web site at www.sewmuchcomfort.org
Disabled World is an independent disability community established in 2004 to provide disability news and information to people with disabilities, seniors, their family and/or carers. See our homepage for informative news, reviews, sports, stories and how-tos. You can also connect with us on Twitter and Facebook or learn more on our about us page.
Disabled World provides general information only. The materials presented are never meant to substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Financial support is derived from advertisements or referral programs, where indicated. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.
• Cite This Page (APA): Disabled World. (2015, March 25). Adaptive Clothing Information for Disabled and Elderly. Disabled World. Retrieved March 25, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/assistivedevices/adaptive-clothing.php
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