I’m finding it difficult to dress myself, are there any aids available?
An important category of independence equipment is this one – dressing aids.
Most people value being able to get up from sleeping when they want to and being able to wear what they want. If you need to have someone to help you get dressed then often you’ll lose the ability to choose when you can get up in the morning because you are relying on someone else’s availability.
If you can’t get a particular piece of clothing on, then you might decide to stop wearing it even if you are less comfortable, for example, socks and bras.
Using dressing aids is a way of avoiding the need for carers and to keep wearing what you want to wear.
The reasons dressing becomes difficult vary but problems include:
- Difficulty with fiddly buttons or zips due to decreased grip, sensation or dexterity in the fingers and hands.
- Decreased range of movement in the major joints -shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles.
- Back pain and inability to reach or lean forward.
- One sided muscle weakness after a stroke.
- Weakness on both sides due to arthritis.
- Difficulties due to feeling unbalanced or poor co-ordination.
- Remembering the sequence that needs to be followed to get yourself dressed.
For buttons, as the new MP Jared O’Mara who is the first to be allowed to enter the house of commons in a T-Shirt can attest to, there is no easy solution for standard shirts. The buttons are usually small and hard to hold and the openings tight. Traditional button hook aids are hard to manoeuvre and almost impossible one-handed.
The best solutions (unless you have a pacemaker) are the magnetic buttons.
The Magnaready shirts are a little expensive at £49.99 but are very good quality. Perhaps just to be worn for ‘best’.
Click to see how the Magnaready range works.
Other options are fake buttons where the shirt is actually held together with velcro or pulled over the head, made to look like a traditional shirt.
Stretchier fabric and clothes without buttons such as drawstring, velcro or elastics tend to be easier to put on.
When it comes to reaching your feet to put on pants and trousers then there are a couple of solutions. Using an easy reacher or ‘helping hand’ can be sufficient if you can grip the clothing well enough and can move your legs into the holes easily.
With heavy or large items it can be difficult to find the holes with your feet when using a reacher as the material will drape over to cover them. This can make it a longer process which takes more energy. Similarly the old style dressing sticks can end up taking a lot of energy and co-ordination to use them. They can be suitable for some people who can learn to manoevre, grip and co-ordinate them correctly.
I have never been able to teach anyone with a health condition to use this easily, although for younger people, possibly.
There are a few new products designed to help with this and make the process quicker and easier.
The Trouser aid keeps the leg holes open and makes this an easier task with less steps involved and removes the need to bend the knees.
The hardest piece of clothing to get on is often said to be the compression stocking. They are almost impossible to do if you have issues with your hand grip strength or ability to reach your legs.
After trialling a few methods the best we found was definitely the Steve+
This video shows how easy it makes it to keep up with any post operative or long term need for compression stockings.
More portable sock and stocking aids are also available but may require more grip strength and perseverance to use successfully.
Being able to dress yourself independently protects a persons dignity and allows them to conserve energy for enjoying life.
There are now much more attractive and enjoyable to wear ranges of adaptive clothing and easier and more pleasant to use pieces of equipment to help.
There are many more products designed to make life brighter and better at
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No patient/doctor relationship is to be inferred and you should seek medical advice from a qualified practitioner.
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