Adaptive clothing, or adapted clothes, are defined as clothing, garments and footwear specially designed for people who may have difficulty dressing themselves or who have medical conditions where medical equipment must be attached to them all the time. This includes not being able to manipulate closures, such as buttons and zippers, those who have restricted movement that interferes with dressing. Adaptive clothing makes it easier for people to stay independent for longer. Also the range of options people have means that you do not have to give up your own style if you do require adapted clothing. Adapted clothing also makes dressing and undressing patients easier for caregivers, nurses, and hospice staff, and provide nonrestrictive comfort to the wearer.
What to Look for When Purchasing Adaptive Clothing:
- Choice of material – For some, it is essential that the materials used are not going to be abrasive to the skin. The fabric should also be high quality to be able to withstand cleaning and useage
- Keeps your dignity – Dignity is important, make sure 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.
- Functional design – Check where fasteners are located so that undue pressure is not applied to tender areas of the body which can then produce sores etc. If you are in a wheelchair, garments that hang near wheelchair brakes or wheels can be very hazardous. Split shoulders allow dressing without having to place the clothing over the wearers head as the garment can be donned around the person.
- Feels like normal clothes – Any adapted clothing 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 and swimwear for ostomates, and naturally, adaptive clothing. The truth is for millions of those with medical needs, the inspiration and innovation from bold entrepreneurs has produced products that makes wearing medical clothing fashionable as well as functional. Medical enhancements to adaptive clothing should be discreet modifications; lightweight additions that do not bulk the garments, and allow unique enhancements like zippers to be easily tucked away and hidden.
- Broad Range of Sizes – People come in all shapes and sizes, so clothing should come in all shapes and sizes. For the best mobility and style, the perfect size adaptive clothes will make all the difference.
Adapitve clothing doesn’t just stop at the ankles, there is a variety of adapted footwear that people who have issues putting on, tying up, or have problems walking in general can benefit from. Orthopedic shoes, for example, are specially-designed footwear that relieves the discomfort associated with many foot and ankle disorders. These include blisters, bunions, calluses and corns, hammer toes, plantar fasciitis, or heel spurs. They may also be worn by individuals with diabetes or people with unequal leg length. They are designed so they are easy to put on with a low but firm heel and a ‘wide fit.’ Some may also have removable insoles or orthotics to provide extra arch support. Adaptive shoes should meet all the criteria mentioned above for clothing.
You could also approach your GP or local Age Concern, who may be able to advise where you could go to get adaptive clothing in your area.
Adaptive clothing should benefit the wearer both physically and psychologically, quality clothing often makes us feel good about ourselves, promoting a sense of wellbeing.