A Brief Guide To Adaptive Clothing For Arthritis Patients

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

It is a huge help for arthritis patients to have access to clothing that requires as little joint movement as possible. With adaptive clothing, they are able to get dressed with little to no pressure on their joints and muscles. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

Adaptive Clothing For Arthritis Patients

It is a huge help for arthritis patients to have access to clothing that requires as little joint movement as possible. With adaptive clothing, they are able to get dressed with little to no pressure on their joints and muscles. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

Income Disclosure: I recommend products based on my personal experience working with seniors.
I may earn a commission on items purchased from affiliate links in this guide. Learn More.

Dressing patients with arthritis, stiff or painful joints, limited mobility, and other related conditions can often be a challenge. Clothing that does not require the patients to move their joints can really make a huge difference for a person who suffers from arthritis.

Adaptive clothing for arthritis patients allows them to get dressed without having to put pressure on their joints and muscles.

What Is Adaptive Clothing?

Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints. The pain can make movement difficult, making dressing independently quite strenuous. Adaptive clothing helps the person with arthritis to dress more conveniently without having to over-exert their joints.

Caregivers of arthritis patients also benefit from adaptive clothing for arthritis patients because their work is made easier.

Adaptive clothing for seniors and the elderly features easy closures like zippers or VELCRO brand fasteners as opposed to buttons, convenient elastic waistband that makes it easy to wear and remove garments, and necklines in tops and dresses that allow for easy overhead dressing.

Adaptive garments also include grab loops in pants, culottes, and slacks that help patients with arthritis to wear clothes without the help of a caregiver.

Where the symptoms of arthritis are severe, open-back adaptive clothing is recommended. The open-back designs make the clothes easy to wear for people with arthritis.

For the patient, the process of dressing up becomes easier and less painful. For the caregiver, the process of helping a patient with arthritis becomes less strenuous because the clothes open completely down the back for easier dressing while the patient is sitting in a wheelchair or in bed.

Adaptive clothing also includes special footwear designed for patients with arthritis. The most common footwear options include shoes with loop and hook closures, as well as slip-on crocks and socks.

adaptive clothing for arthritis patients types
Wearing compression socks can help prevent the long-term side effects of arthritis.

What Types Of Adaptive Clothing Are Available For Arthritis Sufferers?

Adaptive clothing types for arthritis patients includes pant sets, dresses, tops, sweaters, and sleepwear for both men and women. For patients who suffer from arthritis that mainly affects their fingers, there are convenient pull-over-the-head style garments with no snaps, buttons, or zippers.

Velcro Clothing

Velcro is a category of clothes that feature loop and hook fasteners for linking objects. Velcro is made up of 2 layers: a “loop” side, which is covered in tiny plastic loops, and a “hook” side, which is equally covered in plastic hooks.

When the 2 sides are pressed together, the loops attach to the hooks and hold the garment together. When the sides are separated, the Velcro strips make a ripping sound.

The strength of the Velcro straps depends on how well the loops are attached to the hooks. Velcro has several limitations. The straps tend to accumulate fur, dust, and hair after an extended duration of regular use.

Also, the loops can become broken or elongated over time. Velcro is often attached to clothing for arthritis patients, especially loosely-woven items such as sweaters. 

See my full guide to velcro clothing in this guide.

Magnetic Closures

Anyone suffering from mobility limitations due to arthritis can benefit from adaptive clothing with magnetic closures. People with arthritis have limited joint function and movement. These restrictions can cause significant challenges for dressing independently.

Adaptive clothing with magnetic closures includes magnetic buttons that make it easier for patients to dress up.

Overall, magnetic closures in clothes for patients with arthritis should help with the following:

  • Ease of putting on clothes
  • Ease of removing clothes
  • Ease of access to closure via extra features
  • Convenient clothing for arthritis patients and caregivers

Elastic Waisted Pants

Elastic waisted pants are pants that can be pulled over easily and held over the waist by an elastic band. There are numerous benefits of wearing elastic-waisted pants if you suffer from arthritis.

For starters, these pants are easy and convenient to wear and remove. Elastic waisted pants can be secured firmly around your waist as the elastic stretches around your waist.

The elastic waist means that the clothing does not require any buttons or zippers. You also don’t need to wear a belt with these pants.

Pants with Pull-Up Loops

There is no need to stop when wearing pants with pull-up loops. Patients who suffer from arthritis often have challenges pulling up their pants due to immense pain in their joints. Fortunately, there is special adaptive clothing that can effectively address this problem.

Pants with pull-up loops include two elastic loops sewn inside the waistband that gives you an extra arm length to pull up your pants easily.

To wear these pants, all you need to do is sit properly in an armchair, grasp the elastic loops and place both feet into leg holes and pull the loops to pull up your pants. It’s that simple. 

Easy On/Off Clothing

We know that it can sometimes be difficult for arthritis patients to find clothes that they love that are easy to put on and remove without a hassle. Even tiny changes to clothes can make a huge difference by helping to improve independence and giving back confidence.

A few adjustments to clothes can make them more accessible and user-friendly.

Easy on/off clothing includes stretchy and loose clothes that are less restrictive and easier to put on and take off. Some examples of easy on/off clothing include leggings, jeggings, and elasticated trousers.

Socks and Footwear

Arthritis socks and shoes can help keep your feet comfortable and warm without causing additional problems.

Wearing socks specifically designed for arthritis patients, such as compression socks, can also be an effective way to prevent the long-term side effects of arthritis, such as difficulty walking, limited mobility, and reduced overall quality of life.

Padded footwear is an excellent option for people with arthritis because they include padding between the feet and the floor. These shoes can be extremely beneficial if your feet hurt when you walk.

The padding offers an extra layer of support that prevents abrasions and bruising that may occur with regular footwear.

adaptive clothing for arthritis patients make easier
It is easier to put on and take off clothes when using adaptive clothing for arthritis patients.

How Does Adaptive Clothing Make Getting Dressed Easier For Arthritis Patients?

Getting dressed every day can be a difficult task if you suffer from arthritis. Adaptive clothing for arthritis patients makes it easier to put on and take off clothes independently. Adaptive clothing is also more comfortable to wear and does not make the symptoms of your condition worse. 

Adaptive clothing helps arthritis patients to dress easier and quicker. The clothes also improve the patient’s self-image and help reduce any anxiety associated with normal day-to-day tasks.

Where Can You Buy Adaptive Clothing For People With Arthritis? 

Finding fashionable and stylish clothing for arthritis patients is easier than you thought. Many companies have seen the need to create a dedicated fashion category for both men and women who suffer from arthritis.

Some of the main brands that offer adaptive clothing for arthritis patients include: 

Ovidis

Use code GWG10 to save 10% off regular prices.

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

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

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.

Amazon Adaptive Clothing

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

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

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:

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive

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.

Seven7 Adaptive

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!

RELATED: Ultimate List of Top Adaptive Clothing Brands and Retailers

How To Make Getting Dressed With Arthritis Easier?

Getting dressed when suffering from arthritis means that you have to deal with pain, inflammation, stiffness, weakness, joint discomfort, and limited range of movement.

It’s no surprise that this everyday task can feel like a difficult chore that wears you down emotionally and physically. Fortunately, there are specific things you can do to make getting dressed with arthritis easier. Here are some of them:

  • Choose loose-fitting clothing
  • Opt for soft, stretchy fabric
  • Avoid clothes with back closures
  • Take advantage of dressing aids (zipper pulls, shoehorn, sock aid, buttons hooks, etc.)
  • Make smart fashion choices (like wearing Velcro clothing, magnetic button covers, front-closure bras, elastic laces, and belts with one-handed closures)
  • Stay seated for better balance
  • Allocate enough time
  • Ask for help where necessary
Photo of author

Scott Grant, CSA®, ATP, CRTS®

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Certified Rehab Technology Supplier (CRTS®)

I have been serving seniors and the elderly for over 20 years as a medical equipment and custom wheelchair specialist for a regional medical equipment company. I am also a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not helping older adult improve the quality of their lives, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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