Getting dressed can be a daily pain point for millions of seniors living with a disability or experiencing loss of dexterity. Whether dressing on their own or with the help of a caregiver, certain movements and clothing styles are more difficult and can lead to anger and frustration. Luckily, several clothing companies are trying to help seniors and their caregivers overcome unnecessary stress by providing universally designed clothing that’s easier to put on than traditional wear.
These companies are working to create accessible styles that are easier to take on and off, especially for those living with disabilities, in recovery or who require mobility assistance. The brands range in style from cozy T-shirts to fashionable sneakers, each intentionally designed for easier use, comfortable wear and dressing with confidence—adaptive styles that could make a simple but noticeable quality of life difference.
According to co-founder Billy Price, after a three-story fall that caused him to be paralyzed from the chest down, he struggled to find shoes he could wear independently or be proud to wear. Billy’s Footwear uses a simple design to make footwear easier to put on without sacrificing style. The fashionable collection features traditional laces on top but comes enabled with a zipper that allows the entire top to flip over for easy on-and-off wear. The line includes everything from fashionable tennis shoes, boots, work shoes, and shoes for kids and toddlers.
The zip-top style can make it easier for seniors to take shoes on and off if they have limited dexterity and can also ease the daily step of dressing for caregivers.
2. Rebound Wear
The zipper-enabled Rebound Wear designs make it easier to get dressed in the morning for those experiencing limited mobility, whether that be due to injury, disability or age. The strategic openings on the shoulders, sides and front create easier entry but also allow for quick access for use of heart monitors, ports or other medical treatments. The comfortable clothes are designed for all needs and can be worn during a hospital stay or used in a workout.
Zappos Adaptive designs feature everything from easy-on-and-off shoes to front-clasping bras. The designs are meant to improve ease-of-use for seniors, caregivers and anyone who may be frustrated with traditional wear. Brands they carry include Billy Footwear, mentioned earlier, but also UGG slides.
The adaptive line from Tommy Hilfiger is both accommodating and attractive, with styles ranging from comfortable lounge wear to semi-formal wear.
Classic, clean button-up shirts actually use magnetic closures to keep a dressed-up look while also being easy to take on and off. Stretch fabric joggers use cord-lock fasteners to make the drawstring easy to adjust one-handed. They also create stylish dresses with zippers to create a wide opening for easy dressing.
Nike has created a one-of-a-kind hands-free shoe design, the first of its kind according to the website. The design is based on the way people sometimes lazily take off their shoes, by putting one foot on the heel and shoving it down to take your foot out. The company elaborated on that phenomenon and created a shoe meant to easily work that way. The rubber banded heel opens up and creates an easy slip-on-and-off sneaker.
These stylish shoes, originally designed for adaptive athletes, proved to be more universally appealing than the company expected. The chic and trendy shoes can give adaptive benefits while still having visual appeal.
When in doubt, DIY
In recent years, many companies are starting to build or expand adaptive lines—a major win for disability advocates and seniors. However, it can still be a struggle to find appealing clothing to fit everyone’s needs and budgets. For those who may be searching for the perfect fit and still unable to find it, many have taken to creating their own adaptive styles to fit their needs or the ones of those they love.
YouTube now has plenty of do-it-yourself videos on how to create adaptive clothing for wheelchair use, limited arm mobility and others. The step-by-step how-to videos can help caregivers create a design that works best for themselves and the seniors they care for. Many designs only require beginner sewing skills and are adapted from commonly owned clothes.