Clothing Adaptations and Dressing Aids for Independent Living

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					  Clothing Adaptations and Dressing
     Aids for Independent Living
Every one of us has fumbled with a button. But stiffness, pain,
weakness, or paralysis can make dressing and undressing
particularly difficult. This information on types of clothing and simple
adaptations, devices and methods to make dressing and undressing
easier may be useful.

CHOOSE ACCESSIBLE                         dressing aid.
CLOTHING                                  Sew loops or tabs of ribbon
                                          or seam binding inside
Roomy, stretchy clothes with              clothes to help in pulling
simple fastenings are your best           them on or off.
bet. For ease and comfort,                Adapt a brassiere by sewing
choose clothing with:                     up the back closure, cutting
   Side or front closings                 the front open, and attaching
   Deep armholes or raglan                Velcro strips.
   sleeves                                To keep a shirt or blouse
   Pull-on, elasticized waists            tucked in, sew rubber strips
   Ample ease to move freely              to the inside of your skirt or
   “Breathable,” soft-surface             slacks waistband.
   fabrics                                Slacks can be fitted with side
                                          zippers in the legs for ease
CLOTHING ADAPTATIONS                      in pulling them on and off.
                                          Zippers in the inside seam to
   Sew cuff buttons on with               the knee may accommodate
   elastic thread; keep them              a cast or brace.
   buttoned all the time and
   simply slide your hand              Remember: Buttons require the
   through.                            most movement and
   Remove buttons from the             coordination; snaps or dome
   cuff or front of a blouse or        fasteners are easier. Zippers
   shirt, and sew the button to        are faster and easier still, and
   the closed buttonhole               simplest of all are Velcro strips.
   borders. Sew Velcro on the
   two sides and press to close.       SOME OTHER TIPS
   Attach a ring or loop to the
   zipper tab so it’s easier to        Wheelchair-users should avoid
   catch with fingers or a             long ties or scarves, full-length
coats, wide pant legs, or floppy                and can be purchased at camping
sleeves, which can catch in wheel               supply stores. If you design your
spokes or pick up dirt from the tires.          own, cut it just below waist level at
                                                the back and allow enough front
Wrap-around skirts are particularly             length to drape over the knees. Taper
fast and easy to put on, and allow              the sides, so they won’t bunch and
women in wheelchairs extra                      catch in the wheels. A zip-in insulated
movement. Choose a shawl rather                 lining can make a rain cape into a
than a sweater for extra warmth.                cold-weather garment.
Jackets with side (not rear) vents are
less likely to ride up. Pre-tied, clip-on       A hat is essential in winter since so
ties are available in attractive                much body heat escapes from an
patterns for a dressier look. Avoid             uncovered head. A well-designed
using pants pockets; keep you wallet            winter hat covers the ears, is made of
in a breast pocket, secured with a              a natural fiber with good insulating
strip of Velcro.                                properties, and is not tight. If gloves
                                                are difficult for you to wear, try
If you use crutches, a top with too             mittens instead. They’re warmer,
much roominess can cause bunching               much easier to get on and off, and
or binding under the arms. On the               come in a wide variety of colors and
other hand, tight shirts or blouses             styles. A thumbless version is
restrict arm and shoulder movement,             especially warm and easy to get on
leading to balance problems and split           and off, and can be knitted by a
seams.                                          friend.

A customized apron of pockets                   FOOTWEAR
designed for tools or items that you
use most frequently may make work               Here are some ideas for accessible
or hobby activities easier and more             footwear:
enjoyable.                                         Both dressy and casual shoes are
                                                   available in slip-on styles.
OUTERWEAR                                          Elastic shoelaces stay tied and
                                                   simply stretch open when you put
Look for warm, waterproof designs                  on or remove your shoes.
that can bridge seasons, with the
same design features – deep
armholes or raglan sleeves,
roominess – as indoor clothing.

A hooded poncho or cape is
particularly suitable for protecting a
wheelchair user from rain and cold,                Shoelace clips slide up and down

Clothing Adaptations and Dressing Aids      2                       12/14/11
For Independent Living
   the lace ends and lock into place.           by bending the triangular form into a
   Many sport shoes and boots and a             long, thin handle; use the hook to
   few dressier styles are available            reach, pull, or zip.
   with Velcro tab fasteners.
   A shoe button screws into the top
   lace hole on your shoe; once laces
   are tied, you just hook them over
   the button to fasten.

Inexpensive removable cleats
attached to shoes or boots can                            Button Hook / Zipper Pull
improve your walking control on ice
or snow. These can be purchased                 Sew small loops inside your clothes;
from a medical supply store.                    catch them with the hook of your
                                                dressing aid to pull them toward you
DRESSING AIDS                                   and to pull them on. Use belt loops
                                                on skirts or slacks, and buttonholes
When it comes to the actual process             on shirts, blouses, and sweaters. If
of dressing and undressing, dressing            you own a reaching aid, you’ve
aids can make these activities easier.          probably already used it as a
                                                dressing aid. Most reachers have
A well-designed aid should be                   jaws or a projecting hook or lug for
lightweight but sturdy, and will:               catching articles and retrieving them.
    Help you reach your clothing and            You can find commercial dressing
    pull it toward you;                         aids at most medical supply shops.
    Hold the garment so that you can
    put in your foot, arm, etc.;                Once the garment is on, you’ll need
    Pull the article on without straining       to fasten it. Buttons can be dealt with
    your back, shoulders or arms;               easily with a button hook, available in
    Attach to and detach from clothing          many sizes, with a variety of handles.
    easily.                                     Push the hook through the
                                                buttonhole, catch the button in the
A very simple dressing aid can be               hook, and pull it through.
made by attaching a clothes peg,
hook, garter, or clamp to a piece of            Attach a ring or loop to the zipper on
fabric tape, rope or length of wood.            slacks or jackets to make it easier to
The rope or tape can be tied into               catch with your finger or the hook of a
loops for easier handling; two aids             dressing stick. For back zippers, use
can be used together to pull on                 a dressing stick if you can reach the
slacks, pantyhose, or a skirt. An               zipper; otherwise attach a hook with
instant dressing aid can be                     a cord, (before putting on the
improvised from a wire coat hanger              garment, if you can’t reach behind),

Clothing Adaptations and Dressing Aids      3                          12/14/11
For Independent Living
then grasp the cord or ring and pull           Ann Morris Enterprises, Inc.
the zipper.                                    551 Hosner Mountain Road
                                               Stormville, NY 12582
SHOES AND BOOTS                                800/454-3175
A simple shoe horn can be your best
friend when it comes to putting on             Assisted Access, Inc.
shoes and boots, whether laced,                P.O. Box 230
buckled, or slip-on. Shop for a long-          Lake Villa, IL 60046-0230
handled model to reduce bending                800/950-9655
and straining; check that the point
where the horn joins the handle is             Can-Do Products
sturdy, particularly if you use it for         200 Robbins Lane
heavy shoes or boots. The handle               Jericho, NY 11753
can be built up if you find it hard or         800/537-2118
painful to grip. Push your shoe up   
against the wall or a solid piece of
furniture for stability when putting it        Clothes Ability
on. Removing shoes and boots can               7170 Gershwin Court
also be difficult, but a bootjack can be       Colorado Springs, CO 80911
a great help. Place your heel                  719/390-1217
between the prongs of the bootjack,
and pull your foot out. A bootjack can         Dr. Leonard’s Healthcare
be fastened to the floor in a                  100 Nixon Lane
convenient location or left free to be         P.O. Box 7821
moved where needed. Or use the                 Edison, NJ 08818
rung of a chair or stool to catch the          800/785-0880
heel when removing footwear.         

                                               Dynamic Living
                                               428 Hayden Station Road
                                               Windsor, CT 06095-1302
                    Sock Aid

Vendors                                        Forde’s Functional Fashions
                                               225 S. Meramec, Suite 1029
                                               St. Louis, MO 63105
P.O. Box 515
Colchester, CT 06415-0515
Clothing Adaptations and Dressing Aids     4                      12/14/11
For Independent Living
Gold Violin                                  Rolli-Moden Designs
P.O. Box 261639                              12225 World Trade Drive, Suite T
San Diego, CA 92196                          San Diego, CA 92128
877/648-8465                                 800/707-2395                 

Harriet Carter                               Rolyan Ability One
Dept. 10                                     P.O. Box 1005
North Wales, PA 19455                        N104 W13400 Donges Bay Road
800/377-7878                                 Germantown, WI 43022                        800/558-8633
Independent Living Aids, Inc.
27 E. Mall                                   Sammons Preston
Plainview, NY 11803                          P.O. Box 5071
800/537-2118                                 Bolingbrook, IL 60040-5071                    800/323-5547
Maddak, Inc./Ableware
Pequannock, NJ 07440                         Youcan Toocan
201/628-7600                                 2223 So. Monaco Parkway
                                             Denver, CO 80222
Maxi Aids                                    888/663-9396
P.O. Box 3209                      
Farmingdale, NY 11735

Pathways HomeCare Center
11091 E. Mississippi Ave.
Aurora, CO 80010

Clothing Adaptations and Dressing Aids   5                     12/14/11
For Independent Living
                                  For more information contact:
                                 Assistive Technology Partners
                                 601 East 18th Avenue, Suite 130
                                       Denver, CO 80203

                                          303.315.1280 office
                                           303.837.1208 fax
                                           303.837.3477 TTY
                                         800.255.3477 toll free


            This publication may be reproduced without the written permission of ATP
                        provided that the source is appropriately credited.

Clothing Adaptations and Dressing Aids                6                        12/14/11
For Independent Living

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