The Challenges of Aging: How Adaptive Clothing Can Help

A senior facing the challenges of aging uses adaptive clothing to make it easier.
Difficulty getting dressed is just one of the common challenges of aging, but adaptive clothing can help.


When you chose your outfit this morning, were you thinking about style? How about comfort? A particular memory attached to a piece of clothing? What we wear means something to us, and the simple act of choosing what to wear and having the ability to put it on is vital to our independence. When the challenges of aging or a health condition such as arthritis make it hard to self-dress, adaptive clothing is a wonderful option to maintain self-sufficiency.

What Kinds of Adaptive Clothing Are Best?

There are many key features to keep in mind in adaptive clothing, including:

How it’s put on: Having to lift the arms and pull a restrictive shirt over the head is way more challenging than slipping on a cardigan. For someone in a wheelchair or with other mobility issues, clothing that opens in the back or on the side is an even better choice.

How it helps prevent falls: Remember to think about shoes when it comes to adaptive clothing! Adaptive shoes are often slip-resistant and can accommodate a brace or swelling.

How easy it is to wash: Choose machine wash/tumble dry clothing made from material that resists wrinkles and will be most convenient and comfortable.

How it fastens: One of the common challenges of aging includes problems with joints that may make it difficult to manage zippers and buttons. Opting for clothing with Velcro, snaps, or magnets can be easier.

How restrictive it is: Clothing with adjustable straps or an elastic waistband is less restrictive and also works well for someone with fluctuating weight or issues with swelling.

Will It Fit?

It’s not always easy to find clothes that are comfortable and that fit well, particularly if you’re ordering clothing online. Here’s how to achieve the best results:

Start with measurements. Get an accurate measurement of the individual’s hips, waist, inseam, and for women, bust.

Reference the size chart. Many online adaptive clothing sites will provide size charts. Along with the individual’s body measurements, pay attention to whether the garments provide a relaxed or slim fit.

Try it on. Whenever possible, the simplest way to ensure a great fit is by trying the items on and having the person move about to test for flexibility, mobility, and comfort. If a piece of clothing misses the mark in any of those areas, return it or speak with a tailor or seamstress about altering it.

Keep in mind that adaptive clothing is meant to help mitigate the struggles of dressing that may come with the challenges of aging, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for frumpy frocks! Take a moment together and look at patterns, colors, and styles online so the older adult can choose the items they like best.

Contact Golden Harmony for further help with your adaptive clothing needs. We are here to offer tried and true tips, take older adults shopping, provide support with getting dressed, and much more. Serving Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, and the nearby communities, you can email or call us any time at 919-426-7522 to find out more about our services.