Tips to Make It Easier for Seniors to Get Dressed

Last Updated: 12.04.24


Getting dressed and undressed, while a normal and easy activity for most, can become a challenge for seniors that have limited mobility or that suffer from disorders such as arthritis. While things like a quality pair of arthritis gloves can help restore some of the mobility and dexterity, dressing oneself can still be a time-consuming and frustrating task.

With that being said, there are some simple tricks that elders can follow. Clothing and items that they can buy, can make their daily routine including applying lotions and facial cleanser (see our article), significantly easier. If you have the time, we have listed them all below.

Consider adaptive clothing

We found that most people try to avoid using adaptive clothing because of a common misconception. Elders and people, in general, tend to believe that adaptive clothing is only for wheelchair users or other persons that suffer from severe disabilities. While it is true that these groups benefit significantly from this type of garment, adaptive clothing is for everyone.

They have the benefit of being specially designed to make dressing more manageable, and more comfortable. You don’t have to feel ashamed of wearing them, especially since most people won’t be able to tell that you are wearing an adaptive clothing item. On the other hand, you will feel the benefits of a comfortable fit and of the precious time and energy you’ll save every day.

There is a wide range of adaptive clothing that you can choose from, including tops, undergarments, bottoms, and shoes, and they all have built-in features to address the specific needs of seniors.

For elders that are independent dressers, you should look for clothes that feature easy-to-use closures even by people with limited dexterity, such as Velcro tabs or magnetic snap buttons. For persons that are dressed by a carer, clothes that offer a rear-closure design are advised.

Similarly, a big misconception that caregivers and seniors sometimes make becomes apparent in their tendency of purchasing garments in a size that is larger than what they usually wear. People tend to think that loose clothing will make getting dressed easier and that it can accommodate swelling, weight fluctuations, and help increase their mobility.

Of course, that is not what happens at all, and it is essential to be aware that when clothes don’t fit well, they can easily lead to falls and injuries, especially for persons with limited mobility that rely on a walking stick. Adaptive clothing remains a safer and more comfortable choice.


Don’t forget the shoes and socks

The elderly often ignore the importance of proper footwear and go for the same options they’ve worn most of their life, but the option they choose can be uncomfortable and difficult to put on. Foot swelling is a big problem for seniors, which is why adaptive shoes or sliders are recommended for people that need improved comfort, slip-resistance, and convenience.

Caregivers generally recommend purchasing slip-on shoes that are easier to put on than shoes that feature laces and ties. It is also mandatory to make sure that the shoes come with non-skid soles. Similarly, we found that many people prefer quality Velcro shoes for elderly citizens since they are easy to put on and washable.

Of course, we couldn’t talk about shoes without taking a moment to mention the socks. Putting socks on can often be a difficult task even for younger people, so it is not a surprise that seniors too can have a hard time with it.

Caregivers recommend elders to purchase compression socks as they help with reducing swelling as well as attending to various health concerns. Since the socks reduce swelling, you will find it much more comfortable to get in your new pair of adaptive shoes.

Putting the compression socks on should not be a problem at all, as long as you’ve got the right size on. They are very stretchy, and they won’t cause any discomfort or require a lot of effort to put them on.

For seniors that suffer from limited mobility, there are a few products that can help with putting the socks and shoes on with the least amount of effort. A sock aid, for example, can assist you if you find it difficult to bend forward to put the socks on. Similarly, if you don’t already own a shoehorn, you should consider purchasing one.

Eliminate buttons

For the elderly who suffer from limited dexterity, buttons should be avoided at all cost since they can be challenging to use. You can instead switch to shirts, skirts, pants, and undergarments that use Velcro, hook-and-eye, elastic waistbands, and zipper closures.

You also won’t have to worry that going for garments that feature Velcro or pull loops will limit your range of choices, or styles. There are many specialty shops and online stores that offer a wide range of fashionable clothes that are designed specifically for your distinct needs.

If buttons are a must for you, there is no need to fret since there is a solution to this problem as well. You can purchase a button hook which is a device designed especially for people that suffer from arthritis, tremors or loss of dexterity. The hook can turn the frustrating struggle of buttoning a shirt into a pleasant and straightforward task.


Other tips to consider

When dressing, you should sit down as that can help make things a lot more comfortable and manageable. If you have one arm or leg that is stiffer or that experiences more pain than the other, you should place it into the piece of clothing first.

Similarly, when undressing, you should remove the stronger leg or arm first so that you can then slip out your achy leg or arm more easily and comfortably. By letting the stronger limb take the lead, you will provide good support to your body getting undressed.

You can also consider getting clothing that features larger openings as that will enable you to slip garments over your head more easily. As we mentioned above, this does not mean getting clothes in larger sizes than what you usually wear. Lined clothes can also be a lot easier to slip on for seniors.



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