By 2026, the global market for adaptive clothing is projected to be valued at almost $400 billion, according to research from Coherent Market Insights. Adaptive clothing for seniors first started trending in the 1980s, when families and health care professionals recognized the need to create easy-to-wear garments.
As a result, manufacturers started to design special types of outfits adapted to the needs of those with limited mobility. With features like velcro closures, strategic zippers, and well-placed seams, these types of clothes make it easier for a loved one to get dressed on their own. This can increase one's sense of dignity and independence while reducing their reliance on caretakers.
More recently, the focus has shifted to creating more fashion-forward clothing that makes dressing easier for both men and women. With a wide range of affordable and attractive clothing styles available on the market, shopping for seniors can be welcome a challenge.
To make the dressing processes more simple for people with mobility issues, adaptive clothing styles cater to very specific needs. For instance, button styling can make those with arthritis, quadriplegia, or Parkinson's disease struggle to wear a button-down on their own. As an alternative, there are shirts with magnetic features and other fashions that require less dexterity.
For people who have trouble with incontinence, there are special details like scent-resistant adult briefs that are anti-microbial that maximize comfort. Taking into account a loved one's individual needs when it comes to shopping for adaptive clothing for seniors can help narrow down multiple options for clothing and footwear.
Often, velcro type clothing options are typically associated with younger children who have difficulty tying shoes and sneakers. However, adaptive clothing for seniors addresses common issues that older people have, such as diminished hand strength. This may make manipulating snaps, buttons, and zippers exceedingly tricky during the dressing process.
To remedy this, velcro type closures are a quick and easy way to make clothing items easy to put on and take off. Clothing for men with incontinence problems can also incorporate alternative fly openings. Closing and opening shoes with velcro fasteners can also account for any swelling or different foot sizes.
A more subtle alternative to velcro is magnetic buttons, which can be found on many adaptive options. In particular, shoes without shoelaces and pants with magnetic closures suit autistic adults, because they take into account those with sensory processing difficulties. Magnetic items can also aid in the self dressing of a loved one without the help of caregivers.
Instead of back zippers found on conventional styles, side zippers on shirts, pants, and dresses can make dressing easier for a loved one. It can help those who have trouble with toileting, personal care, and difficulty putting on clothing without the aid of caregivers.
Adaptive clothing should be easy to move in and easy to put on for wheelchair-bound seniors and others that may need help. Many adaptive clothing companies sell items that don't have fastenings, along with elastic waistbands that are easier to manage.
Handicapped adults and those with arthritis should consider open back outfits. They eliminate the struggle of raising arms above the head or getting the elbow in line with the shoulder, while also preventing any uncomfortable pressure points in the back.
One of the most popular brands with the most adaptive clothing options is arguably Buck & Buck. With a wide range of clothing for both men and women, they provide custom-tailored selections for seniors who may need help as they get dressed. Other similar brands geared towards seniors include Silverts and Ovidis, which also stock high-quality adaptive clothing goods. On the other hand, IZ Adaptive and Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive stock more fashionable styles.
Many of the garments by Buck & Buck are made locally in the United States, addressing the needs of seniors who have health issues like arthritis, fragile skin, incontinence, and more. With a money-back guarantee, free name labeling, and a free hemming service, it's one of the safest choices for those who are looking for quality goods.
Like Buck & Buck, Silverts products are also especially geared towards adults and seniors who might need to take extra care with how they dress. A major plus is that their website is very intuitive, with the "shop by need" feature coming in handy to narrow down specific clothing designs. For those who need help navigating online stores, Silverts makes this task much easier with its simple user interface.
A Canada-based retailer, Ovidis is another great adaptive clothing retailer. Their designs promote the ease of caregiver assisted dressing through an easy three-step process. In addition, they make sure that all their styles are machine washable and dryable, with no ironing necessary. The majority of items also feature 4-way stretch for maximum comfort.
Adaptive clothing doesn't have to be unfashionable for seniors. IZ Adaptive embraces diversity with their non-gender line. The designer, Izzy Camilleri has had her adaptive clothing line featured in the Royal Ontario Museum and won many awards for her shapes and styles. They specialize in making clothes for wheelchair users, with their coats and pants being two of their standout products.
Another stylish option to make dressing easier for caregivers and their patients is the Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive line made for all ages. They took into account critical feedback from the disability community, constantly improving upon existing designs. Hilfiger updates his essential pieces with modifications like one-handed zippers and magnetic buttons for senior wearers.
Wearers with painful joint movements can benefit from adaptive clothing that provides pain relief. Dressing independently can make many individuals feel more freedom, especially for seniors and other people who dislike being handled or touched.
A 60-year-old woman should consider wearing timeless clothing like straight leg trousers, a smart coat or jacket, and knitwear and shirts that flatter the body. Comfort is always key when it comes to clothing.
When getting dressed, older people should avoid ill-fitting trendy clothing in favor of loose-fitting and breathable fabrics. Cotton fabrics in subtle, complementary colors tend to flatter most skin tones and reduce friction on thin skin.
This article provides a series of sewing adaptations for the elderly and the handicapped, allowing individuals to modify existing garments and learn about what features to look for when shopping for clothing.
This comprehensive adaptive clothing guide includes tools and accessories that make dressing easier and covers the different styles of clothing that seniors should wear according to their needs.
While many people may think that the process of dressing is relatively simple, understanding the issues that elderly people face as they age is crucial when selecting the most appropriate clothing for them. From an aesthetic and technical viewpoint, caregivers and families should focus on finding clothes that can help boost their confidence while maximizing their comfort at the same time.
For more information on other items that may be useful for family caregivers and loved ones, feel free to read our article on the Best Medical Alert Systems for the Elderly at Senior Strong.