Clear, practical advice on daily living equipment
If you find dressing difficult, there are a number of things you can try to remain independent with dressing. Choosing appropriate styles and fabrics, adapted clothing as well as using special techniques or equipment can all help to make dressing easier. (Disability SA, 2008), (ILC Exeter, 2008).
There is a range of ready-made adapted clothing available to buy, or it is possible to make adaptations to your existing clothes. Listed here are some suggestions on how some difficulties can be overcome with adapted clothing.
There are a range of dressing techniques that can be used depending on what difficulties you have with dressing. For example, there are one-handed dressing techniques for tying shoelaces, putting on a bra, shirt, jacket, sweatshirt, socks and for tying a tie. There are also techniques for dressing if you have limited strength in your hands, limited shoulder movement or paralysis.(Disability SA, 2008).
These dressing techniques can be demonstrated by an occupational therapist, who can do an assessment with you, then show you appropriate dressing techniques to suit your abilities. You may also be able to get advice on dressing techniques by visiting your local Disabled Living Centre.
There is a range of equipment available to assist with a variety of dressing tasks. We recommend that you seek advice from an occupational therapist before buying or using any of this equipment. For some of these items, practice and correct technique is needed to ensure you can use the equipment effectively. You may also wish to try out some of this equipment at your local Disabled Living Centre.
A button hook usually consists of a thick handle and a wire loop. The loop is threaded through the button hole, hooked over the button, and the button pulled back through the hole. Button hooks usually need a lot of practice to use effectively, especially if you have the use of one hand only. (Disability SA, 2008).
This is a plastic bracket that slips around your neck, and allows you to keep one side of a front-fastening bra in place while you use the fasteners on the other side with one hand.
A dressing stick usually consists of a long wooden or plastic handle, with a hook on one end and sometimes a thimble or smaller hook on the other. You can use a dressing stick to bring clothes around your shoulders, push clothes off your shoulders, pull up zips (using the small hook end), tighten shoelaces and pull up trousers or straps. You can also sew loops onto clothing and then use the dressing stick to help with positioning the garment. (Disability SA, 2008).
Reachers or pick-up sticks
Reachers are available in various lengths and grip styles, and have a pincer grip at one end. They may be used to pick clothes up from the floor, pull up underwear or trousers and push down socks, underwear or trousers.
This consists of two plastic clips joined with a piece of elastic. One clip is attached to your top, the other to your trousers before you lower trousers to go to the toilet. This helps keep trousers within reach when you stand after using the toilet. For more information on clothing and toileting, read our advice on managing clothing when using the toilet.
A zip aid is usually a piece of cord or fine chain with a hook on one end and a tab at the other to assist with doing up zips. Large rings or tape can also be attached to a zip tab to help make gripping easier. (Disability SA, 2008).
Sock, stocking and compression stocking aids
Sock and stocking aids may help if you have difficulty bending forwards to put on socks, stockings, tights and compression stockings. There are flexible and rigid styles, an occupational therapist would be able to advise you on which one is most suitable for you. There are also stocking aids specifically designed for putting on compression stockings, as these can be quite difficult to put on and take off. (Disability SA, 2008).
Shoelaces and lacing aids
Lace locks can be used to tighten and loosen laces without the need to tie them. Elastic laces can be used to convert lace up shoes into slip-ons. Coiled laces can replace standard laces, and can be tightened using only one hand.
Shoe horns and boot removers
A long handled shoe horn may assist you if you cannot bend to put on your shoes. It will help keep the back of the shoe open while you slide your foot in. A boot lever can help you remove high-legged boots. There is usually a V shaped notch, and the heel of the boot is placed into the remover while you ease your foot out of the boot.
All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
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