Written by Alisa Matsushita-Bomba & Reviewed by Gurnoor Mand
It can be difficult to know how to assist people with paralysis when they’re dressing themselves. Education and practice can make things easier, faster, and more helpful. Here are some tips to make it easier when supporting dressing people with paralysis:
1. Choose Loose Fitting Clothing.
To make dressing easier, buy clothing that makes it easier to put on and take off. Tighter clothes can be harder to dress with. Stretchy fabrics and loose fitting clothing are some easy ways for you to make this process faster. Wide leg pants, t-shirts, and big sweaters are some examples. June Adaptive’s clothing consists of loose fitting, easily worn items perfect for easy dressing. For example, these women's comfort pants with full side seam snap closures are loose and look very fashionable.
2.Lay the Clothes out Beforehand.
Laying out the clothes will make it easy for you and for the person to see what needs to be put on. You could lay them out in order of what to put on first to last to smooth out the process.
3. Choose Cotton Fabrics or Smooth, Soft Fabrics.
Soft fabrics that can glide easily across the skin will allow less tugging and force when putting on or taking off clothes. For older people, tight clothing can also be unsafe, as it can constrict blood flow if it’s too tight. Cotton fabrics and cotton/polyester blends are safe for sensitive skin types, smooth, and will glide easily across the skin. These men’s pants from June Adaptive are made from an ultra soft cotton twill fabric for all day comfort.
4. Dress in Adaptive Clothing.
Adaptive clothing is specially made to be easily put on and taken off! Features like magnetic zippers and buttons and hidden dressing loops to pull up garments allow dressing to be easier. June Adaptive has great pieces made for people living with mobility challenges, like this women’s top with a discrete back overlap and snap closures.
5. Consider Dressing Aids.
There are various dressing aids available that can make the process of putting on and taking off clothes much easier. For example, reachers and grabbers can be used to grab clothing and put on. This can be helpful for the person with paralysis to get ready for their day independently.
6. Use a Transfer Bench.
A transfer bench is a device that helps people with mobility challenges transfer from a wheelchair to a shower or a bathtub. It can also be used when getting dressed. A transfer bench allows the person to sit while dressing, making it easier and less painful for them to reach and put on clothes.
7. Ask What They Need Help With.
Make sure to ask if they need help if you aren’t sure. Respect is key to supporting dressing people with paralysis.
Making the process of dressing easier and more efficient for people with paralysis requires a combination of selection of clothing, the use of dressing aids and transfer benches, and the right approach. By following these tips and being patient and respectful, you can make a positive impact in the life of someone with paralysis.