Patients with ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis are almost immobile and cannot dress without the help of a caregiver. If your loved one suffers from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, you may have a hard time dressing and undressing them.
They cannot wear conventional clothing and require specially designed clothes to guarantee their comfort and convenience. That’s where adaptive clothing for ALS patients comes in handy.
If you are in the market for adaptive clothing for your loved one with ALS, there are many things to consider. This article provides information on adaptive clothing for ALS patients.
What Is Adaptive Clothing?
Have you ever tried to put on a pair of jeans while seated? If so, you know how difficult and frustrating the task is. Adaptive clothing is designed to address this problem. They are specially designed for people with disability.
For example, adaptive clothing may include clothes with magnetic closures instead of buttons, slip-on/off footwear, and more.
One of the key features of adaptive clothing is its ability to cater to a vast array of needs different consumers have while maintaining style and fashionability.
What Is ALS Or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain.
The condition can lead to the loss of muscle control over time and make it difficult for the patient to perform his/her daily life tasks. The disease would often begin with muscle twitching and weakness in a limb. Slurred speech is another symptom of the condition.
Eventually, ALS will affect the control of various muscle groups needed to move, speak, eat, and even breathe. It’s considered a fatal disease with no cure.
The symptoms of ALS can vary from person to person depending on the neurons affected. It usually begins with muscle weakness and worsens over time.
Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of ALS:
- Tripping and falling
- Difficulty performing normal daily activities and walking
- Hand weakness
- Weakness in the legs, ankles, and feet
- Trouble swallowing and slurred speech
- Cognitive and behavioral changes
- Inappropriate laughing, crying, or yawning
- Muscle cramps
- Twitching in arms, shoulders, and tongue
ALS will most often begin in the hands, feet, and limbs of the patient and progress to the other parts of the body. When the condition advances, the muscles become even weaker and eventually affect swallowing, chewing, breathing, and speaking.
The actual cause of ALS isn’t still known. In fact, it is inherited in 5-10% of people. The latest research states that ALS occurs due to a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors.
ALS patients are unable to dress and undress by themselves. Due to the damage to the muscle that controls movement, they are at a higher risk of being immobile over time.
Some patients will experience decision-making and memory problems. They will eventually be diagnosed with a form of dementia called frontotemporal dementia.
How Does ALS Affect A Person’s Ability To Get Dressed?
Living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is undoubtedly challenging. With the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord deteriorating, the patient will find it difficult to perform daily tasks, including dressing and undressing.
Patients with ALS are mostly wheelchair-bound and need clothing to suit their condition. The person may not be able to move his/her limbs to dress and undress.
Hence, conventional clothing may not be the best for such patients. Adaptive clothing for disabled adults, including items specially designed for wheelchair users, is the best choice for your loved one suffering from ALS.
What Types Of Adaptive Clothing Are Helpful For People With ALS?
Dressing and undressing become challenging for patients with ALS. While buttons and zippers can be frustrating for some, others may find it difficult to reach arms through armholes or put legs through leg holes.
Wearing adaptive clothing that is easy to put on and take off will make their task easier and spare unnecessary aggravation and fatigue. Here are some of the most common types of adaptive clothing for people with ALS:
- Trousers with elastic waistbands or drawstrings
- French-cut underpants with wide leg openings – boxer shorts
- Garments that open in the front with roomy armholes
- Buttons sewn on with elastic thread are easier to manage
- Sewing fabric loops inside pants & underwear make pulling them on/off much easier
- Shoes without laces are easy to put on and take off
- Magnet closures can be used in shirts, pants, and other garments instead of buttons
- Many patients are sensitive to certain fabrics and should opt for comfortable fabrics
- Wearing calf-high leg warmers or knee-high fashion boots are ideal for hiding leg braces on skirt wearers
- Wheelchair patients find ponchos, short jackets, or capes more convenient compared to long coats
- Skirts or dresses can be cut fuller in the hips to prevent riding up when sitting.
How Can Adaptive Clothing Help Caregivers Of Adults With ALS?
If your loved one requires help getting dressed and undressed, you should opt for adaptive clothing for your older adult. When an individual is unable to dress or undress due to mobility issues, a caregiver can carry out the task quickly with adaptive clothing.
In fact, adaptive clothing is designed to make it easier for you to dress your loved one. Adaptive clothing feature pants with cutbacks, shirts with Velcro and magnetic closures, shoes without laces, and more.
Where Can You Buy Adaptive Clothing For ALS Patients?
There are many places to buy adaptive clothing for ALS patients. If you are looking for some of the best places to buy adaptive clothing for your loved one, try out some of these places:
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Ovidis is a specialty manufacturer of clothing for people with physical or cognitive difficulties. They offer unique and innovative designs for easy and stress-free dressing by older adults, the disabled, or their caregivers.
Zappos offers much more than adaptive shoes. They offer many adaptive clothing items as well from many of the popular adaptive clothing brands. Plus, they have an Advisory Council that reviews and selects the items they choose to sell.
Dignity Pajamas has created a nice niche in adaptive sleepwear for men and women. They offer many styles of sleep shirts, pajamas, and gowns with open backs and velcro closures.
Being one of the world’s largest retailers, Amazon offers a wide selection of adaptive clothing from many of the most popular manufacturers. Another benefit to purchasing from Amazon is their easy to navigate website and generous return policies.
Etsy is a great place to find one-of-a-kind adaptive clothing pieces that aren’t mass-marketed. Some Etsy sellers even offer custom-made items for special situations or will make special sizes for larger or smaller people.
JCPenney offers a decent selection of adaptive clothing made by standard clothing manufacturers like St. John’s Ba, a.n.a., and Worthington. Plus sizes are available too.
You can also find adaptive clothing through brands dedicated specifically to the craft. A few examples include:
Perhaps a surprising addition to the list is well-known fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger who has a line of adaptive clothing for both adults and children. His shop is a great choice for the more fashion-forward person.
This company focuses on creating stylish denim jeans that use adaptive technology like Velcro or elastic waistbands. Several of their styles are even wheelchair-friendly!
Q: Can You Make Your Own Clothing for ALS Patients?
A: Yes. People with ALS have difficulty with fine motor actions or loss of muscle strength. The closure of the clothing plays an important part when making clothes for your loved one with ALS.
In fact, changing the closure of his/her existing clothing is often a minor adjustment and can make dressing and undressing easier for your loved one. Clasps that are difficult to handle can be replaced by Velcro closures.
The hook band of the Velcro should be placed on the side of the button. Now, sew the buttonhole closed & place a piece of velcro with loops on top. Lastly, sew the button on top of the buttonhole so that the garment looks normal.
When closing a zipper becomes difficult, you can replace the zipper with a magnetic zipper for convenience and comfort.
Q: How Can You Adapt Existing Clothing to Work Better for People With ALS?
A: You should extend the openings of the clothing and replace zippers and buttons with Velcro and magnetic closures. Sweaters, T-shirts, and blouses should have spacious arm openings, sleeves, and a large neckline.
It makes dressing and undressing easier for your loved one with ALS.
Q: Will Medicare or Medicaid Pay for Adaptive Clothing for ALS?
A: No. Medicare or Medicaid doesn’t pay for adaptive clothing for ALS patients. You should fund them using your private resources.
If your loved one suffers from ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, dressing and undressing can be challenging for them. They will be wheelchair-bound most of the time and require caregiver assistance to perform daily tasks like dressing and undressing.
Adaptive clothing is ideal for your older adult with ALS. The aforementioned article provides information on what you need to know when shopping for adaptive clothing for your loved one with ALS.