Adaptive Clothing for Bedridden Elderly (and Caregivers Too!)

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

Clothes that are both easy to wear and easy to take off are a necessity for most older people. With that said, adaptive clothing makes dressing easier, which is greatly beneficial for bedridden seniors. You can find out more about the use and importance of adaptive clothing for bedridden elderly in this article.

Adaptive Clothing for Bedridden Elderly

Clothes that are both easy to wear and easy to take off are a necessity for most older people. With that said, adaptive clothing makes dressing easier, which is greatly beneficial for bedridden seniors. You can find out more about the use and importance of adaptive clothing for bedridden elderly in this article.

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 and undressing are mundane tasks that most people take for granted. It is only when we can’t lift our arms to wear our favorite sweater or bend to tie our favorite pair of shoes that we realize how such tasks matter.

Experiencing difficulties when dressing could result from injury, illness, or disability. Whatever the case, dressing is a crucial part of personal hygiene. That’s why when our loved ones are incapacitated, we step in and help them take care of themselves. 

Because many older people find dressing and undressing difficult, they need special clothes that are easy to take off and on. This is especially the case for bedridden seniors who have very particular needs. How so? Continue reading to find out.

What Is Adaptive Clothing for Bedridden Seniors?

Adaptive clothing is apparel that is tailored to the needs of people with special needs. These include people with temporary disabilities, physical disabilities, injuries, illnesses, mental illnesses, and the aged.

Adaptive clothing lines specialize in handy clothes such as shirts with hidden medical ports, dresses that open from the back, pants that can be pulled on with one hand, and so on. 

When it comes to bedridden seniors, adaptive clothes, as well as equipment and accessories that make dressing easier, can be immensely beneficial. Some of these include open-back dresses and tops, magnetic closures in place of buttons, and side-open pants. 

Granted, dressing while having minimal limb movement and decreased motor control can be difficult. It, therefore, warrants clothes that can be worn easily.

Furthermore, the clothes should be comfortable to wear considering that the person is spending practically all their time in bed. 

Without these, mainstream attire could lead to discomfort, bedsores, bunched garments, and other issues.

That said, adaptive clothing for disabled adults and bedridden seniors makes the dressing and undressing process easier. It also makes the process enjoyable for seniors and their caregivers.

adaptive clothing for bedridden elderly affect
Bedridden patients need assistance to accomplish daily tasks.

How Does Being Bedridden Affect a Person’s Ability to Dress?

Patients who are bedridden stay in bed for short or extended periods for a variety of reasons, including chronic illnesses, advanced age, and disability. Bedridden patients are unable to do self-care or medical care activities in any capacity. 

As such, they require the assistance of others to carry out Activities of Daily Living (ADL). Family members and/or caregivers typically care for bedridden patients.

To understand how being bedridden may affect a person’s ability to dress, here are some causes of being bedridden: 

1. Psychological Issues

The senior in question may be suffering from anxiety or depression. They may also be humiliated by the concept of being dressed. As such, they lose interest in personal hygiene. 

They, therefore, have no intention of dressing or undressing and may see it as a nuisance. In that case, dressing has to be a brief affair. 

2. Physical Illness

When your loved one is ill, infected, or injured, they also lose interest in personal hygiene. Their sickness could also affect their memory, gross motor skills, joint pain, and other issues that lead to difficulty in following through with daily tasks. 

3. Environmental Issues

When bedridden seniors feel the environment is not comfortable for them, they may have issues with their ability to dress. They could feel that there is no privacy, especially in institutions, or feel that there are too many distractions where they live.

Other issues such as poor lighting, instructions that are complicated, and cold rooms also discourage ADL, such as dressing. 

What Types of Adaptive Clothing are Helpful for People Who are Bed Bound?

Many types of adaptive clothing for seniors and the elderly will make it easier for caregivers to dress people while they are in bed. Here are some of the more popular types.

Easy Closures

These include velcro brand closures, easy touch closures, and magnetic buttons. These can assist the bedridden in getting dressed (and undressed) each day while reducing any pain.

They make rapid cleanups feasible for disabled people who have incontinence issues. They are also beneficial to caregivers of patients who are temporarily or permanently crippled – or who are dealing with paraplegia or quadriplegia. 

Loose-Fitting Clothes

People who spend the majority of their days in bed should dress comfortably and loosely. Back fastenings and tight-fitting clothes should be avoided, especially if the person has limited arm movement.

Open back gowns are helpful for a person who spends most or all their time in bed. There are also open back shirts available too.

Extra Sturdy Zippers

These are frequently placed on the side of clothing to assist in getting into and out of dresses and other daily wear easier. This way, putting on and taking off clothes can be a fast affair to prevent boredom and pain. 

Easy On-Off Clothes

The daily job of dressing can be made easier with easy-to-put-on clothing. Dressing can be time-consuming, uncomfortable, and difficult for most people due to limited mobility, injuries, and other constraints.

Large snaps and snap-back attires, for example, make it easier for the caregiver to clothe the elderly person, reducing stress.

Seatless Pants

Many elderly and disabled people suffer from incontinence. Because new underwear must be put on every day, these types of trousers help all disabled persons stay clean and dry throughout the day.

Other Accessories

Specialized devices can make it easier to put on socks, latch bras, and so on.

How Can Adaptive Clothing Help Caregivers of the Bedridden?

Caregivers of bedridden seniors also face challenges when dressing their patients. With adaptive clothing, however, their lives can be greatly improved.

Here are 5 ways caregivers benefit: 

  1. Fast dressing and undressing make the process easy, bearable, and less painful, which makes the patient less likely to complain and reign havoc. 
  2. Reduced pressure and pain keep both the patient and caregiver happy. Fostering a positive relationship.
  3. It helps patients say independent for longer, particularly those with some degree of mobility. When they can dress and undress easily, they change when they can, allowing them some sense of freedom and independence. 
  4. Because the process is easy and less time-consuming, it protects the patient from embarrassment. This way, it safeguards their dignity. 
  5. It gives caregivers confidence because it is stress-free!
adaptive clothing for bedridden elderly where buy
Take a look at these well-known brands for buying adaptive clothes for your loved ones.

Where Can You Buy Adaptive Clothing For Bedridden People?

Now more than ever, a growing number of designers and stores are specializing in adaptive clothes. That makes sense considering millions of people require some form of help when dressing or undressing. Here are some popular brands:

Dignity Pajamas

They retail fashion-forward pajamas that are made of soft 100% cotton. These include covered Velcro back closures, making them suitable for men and women who are bedridden or receiving hospice care.

Ovidis

Use code GWG10 to save 10% off regular prices.

It was started as a brand to cater to those with Alzheimer’s disease. Today, they make a variety of clothes for people with special needs. 

JCPenney

They have a large selection of colorful adaptive clothing and accessories for adults and children who have mobility, dexterity, or sensory problems.

Amazon Adaptive Clothing

From blouses and skirts with magnetic closures, Amazon has hundreds of different adaptive clothing and shoe alternatives to pick from. 

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive

They have a line that focuses on stylish clothing that is also adaptive. Their clothes feature magnetic seams, closures, shoulder openings, open-back clothes, and many other impressive designs. 

Zappos

Zappos Adaptable, which launched in April 2017, sells a curated selection of attractive adaptive clothes sorted by need – everything from diabetic shoes to sensory-friendly clothing to wheelchair-friendly brands. 

CareZips

CareZips trousers are a fantastic option for caretakers who frequently change adult briefs.

These pants contain 3 strategically placed zippers that allow the pants to be frontally unzipped for easy changing. The pants can also accommodate catheters, dialysis, and other needs. 

RELATED: Ultimate List of Top Adaptive Clothing Brands and Retailers

6 Key Tips for Dressing People While They Are In Bed

1. Use the Task Breakdown Technique 

Dressing a person who is partially or completely bedridden can be a difficult and intimidating task. As such, simplify the process by breaking down the chore of dressing into basic, doable phases, e.g., choose a blouse, take off nighttime clothes, start with underpants, and so on. 

If the patient can handle some tasks, let them do them by themselves. The idea is to assist the person in doing as much for himself or herself as possible without becoming frustrated.

2. Make Sure You Are Only Doing One Step at a Time

Don’t succumb to the temptation to group or combine multiple little steps, oblivious to the fact that your patient may no longer be able to execute two or three at once.

Complex tasks, such as wearing pants, should be handled gently to ensure the senior accomplishes everything correctly and avoid irritation later.

3. Always Preserve the Person’s Modesty 

Do not undress your patient unnecessarily. Undress the in sequences as you dress them. Cover them when you can to preserve their decency. You should also close their door and curtains when they are indecent. 

4. Keep the Room Warm

Because dressing and dressing will take some time, always keep the room warm to prevent them from feeling cold. This may deter them from the whole process entirely. 

5. Small Talk Goes a Long Way

As you dress them, engage in small talk. This keeps their mind off the awkwardness and onto other matters. As such, it chases away the anxiety and embarrassment. It also fosters a friendly relationship between you. 

6. Simplify Choices and Pick Comfortable and Simple Clothing

Keep the choices to a few outfits. If the number of clothing options becomes overwhelming, a person may become anxious.

Additionally, choose attire that is both simple and comfy. Finally, clothing should be loose-fitting, especially around the waist and hips, and textiles should be soft and flexible.

Adaptive Clothing for Bedridden Elderly: FAQs

1. How Can You Make Your Own Clothing for the Bedridden?

Buy soft, breathable fabric like cotton. It is ideal because it absorbs perspiration well. Take measurements them enlarge them a bit to make loose-fitting and comfy clothes. 

To make clothes easy to put on and off, you should also avoid back fastenings and clothes that need a lot of arm movement. You can add velcro straps for easy removal as well. 

2. How Can You Modify Existing Clothing to Work Better for People Who Are Bed Bound?

You can modify your loved ones’ clothes as long as you have some basic skills in stitching and sewing. Simply take their everyday attire and make it more functional. 

Instead of using the current buttons to close a shirt, for example, you can replace them with velcro closures. You could also get rid of some of the seams.

3. Will Medicare or Medicaid Pay for Adaptive Clothing for Bedridden Adults?

Adaptive clothing is typically not considered medically required; thus, insurance does not cover it.

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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