9 Ways Adaptive Clothing Can Benefit the Elderly and the Disabled

The term “adaptive clothing” refers to clothing and footwear specially designed for the elderly and people with disabilities. This type of clothing is also commonly recommended for post-surgical patients and anyone who may struggle to dress due to an inability to manipulate closures like zippers and buttons.

Arthritis sufferers, paraplegics, and quadriplegics may also require adaptive clothing. In addition to helping the elderly and disabled dress and undress, adaptive clothing makes the process of dressing and undressing easier for nurses, caregivers, hospice employees, etc.

Adaptive clothing is designed primarily with function in mind. It makes dressing and undressing easier, and some styles allow for easy access to certain parts of the body. This allows wearers to maintain a degree of dignity and self-sufficiency. In many ways, this type of clothing makes life easier for the elderly and the disabled. Let’s take a closer look at the ways adaptive clothing can benefit people who are elderly or disabled.

Increases Independence

Many of us take being able to get dressed in the morning and undressed in the evening for granted. For many elderly individuals and people with disabilities, these daily tasks can create barriers to independence. Adaptive clothing items allow these people to dress and undress without the assistance of someone else. This is extremely beneficial for people who live alone, and it helps boost self-esteem and feelings of independence.

Available for Numerous Situations

One common misconception about adaptive clothing is that it is only designed for people who are confined to wheelchairs or unable to leave their beds. In reality, adaptive clothing is extremely versatile, and there are options that are appropriate for people facing a variety of challenges. Such clothing is available for patients with a wide array of conditions, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, incontinence, multiple sclerosis, and motor neuron disease.

Depending on what condition a patient has, their needs for clothing adaptions vary. People who are unable to fasten closures like buttons or zippers, for example, require clothing that simply slips on. Those who are unable to bend their joints may require clothing with an open back. In some cases, slip on pants are the only piece of adaptive clothing necessary to the patient, giving them the freedom to continue to wear their favorite cotton t shirts or silk sweaters. Adaptive clothing is not a one-size-fits-all solution but rather a collection of items specially designed to make the lives of the elderly and disabled easier.

Provides Access to Medical Devices

With adaptive clothing, patients and caregivers can access medical devices attached to the body without completely removing clothing. This helps preserve dignity while ensuring that such devices can be accessed quickly in emergency situations.

For people who use devices like braces or incontinence garments, adaptive clothing provides the space necessary to accommodate these necessities. This prevents wearers from needing to purchase oversized clothing to ensure there is enough room for the devices they need. Adaptive clothing provides extra space for devices while remaining true to the wearer’s size.


Losing your independence due to age or disability can be devastating and can have a major negative impact on self-esteem. Adaptive clothing allows wearers to retain a sense of dignity and independence, which can improve self-esteem. Many adaptive clothing brands offer clothing that is stylish and looks and feels like “normal” clothes. Wearing nice clothes makes many people feel better about themselves, and being in control of their own dressing and undressing boosts confidence dramatically.

Built to Last

Quality adaptive clothing for elderly and disabled people is designed to hold up to repeated washings. Because these articles of clothing are often worn in hospitals and residential care facilities, they are made of durable materials that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. This ensures that wearers will get several years of use of out their clothing rather than needing to replace it frequently.

Made Using Quality Materials

Elderly and disabled people are often susceptible to skin problems, sores, etc., and wearing the wrong clothing can make these issues worse. High-quality adaptive clothing is made using materials that are not abrasive to sensitive skin. They are also manufactured without fasteners in places where they are likely to cause sores and irritation.

Available in a Wide Range of Sizes

People come in all sizes and shapes. It only makes sense that adaptive clothing should come in all sizes and shapes as well. From petite to plus size, adaptive clothing is available for people with all body types. There are also options for people of all ages.

People with disabilities and older adults often have body types that are not “typical.” Adaptive clothing designers and manufacturers take into consideration and produce clothing that works well on a typical body types.

Improves Safety

Older and disabled individuals often face additional fall risks. Many adaptive clothing pieces are designed to minimize the risk of accidents.For people in wheelchairs, there are options that are designed not to hang near wheelchair wheels or brakes. This helps reduce the risk of wheelchair-related injuries.

Easily Accessible

More and more designers and retailers now offer adaptive clothing, including top brands like Tommy Hilfiger. As adaptive clothing becomes increasingly available through traditional retailers and from known brands, it becomes more accessible to the people who need it.

Some brands, like Target’s Cat & Jack for kids, are available in stores, while other products are available exclusively online. Thanks to the internet, adaptive clothing is never more than a few clicks away. In some instances, adaptive clothing may be covered by insurance or Medicare if prescribed by a physician.

More than 55 million Americans have some type of disability. There is also a large elderly population that sometimes struggles with tasks like dressing and undressing. Adaptive clothing is designed to make life easier for disabled people and the elderly. It allows them to retain their dignity and a sense of self-sufficiency, and it is made to comfortably accommodate many types of special needs. Many manufacturers offer options that look and feel like “normal” clothing, which helps improve self-esteem.