Many people find that as they get older, common day-to-day tasks such as donning their socks become much harder because they experience reduced mobility and reduced manual dexterity. When someone struggles with basic dressing tasks, the loss of independence can be incredibly upsetting.
Finding ways to work around mobility issues can be a key to helping an older person retain some independence, and the mental (and physical) well being associated with it.
This is where assistive devices like sock helpers are extremely helpful for elderly people.
Sock Helpers & Sock Assist Gadgets Make Donning Socks Easier
Sock helpers are simple and relatively inexpensive aids to put on socks, tights or stockings more easily if mobility is impaired, either temporarily or long term. They are deceptively simple in terms of how they work but they can be very useful for people who are struggling to bend over and reach their feet.
How Do Sock Helpers Work?
Sock Helpers are a ‘chute’ for the sock. You put the sock on the device, which holds it open so that your foot can slide into the space. Once your foot is in place, you pull on the straps at the side of the device, and it pulls the sock up, and pulls the aid off once the sock is properly on place on your foot.
The most basic sock assistance devices simply help you to pull the socks on. Some more sophisticated devices also offer an easy way to take your socks off, which can be helpful for those with severe mobility issues.
Which are the Best Sock Helpers?
There are several different brands of sock helper on the market these days, ranging from the deceptively simple to quite robust devices that are clearly designed for regular, long term use.
Here’s a quick look at some of my favorites:
Vive Sock Aid – Easy On and Off Stocking Slider
The Vive sock aid is quite simple ‘pull up’ aid with soft grips, and long cords so that the user does not have to lean forward too far to pull up their anti-slip socks. It is decently sized so should fit most users, including not just the elderly but also pregnant women with swollen feet and mobility issues.
The kit features a plastic, latex-free footwell and the cords are adjustable. This means that it should suit most people, even those who suffer from a latex allergy. As with the Eva, the hard shell and pull-up nature of the device may make it awkward for those who suffer from a lack of upper body strength.
Vaunn Medical EZ-TUG Sock Aid Assist with Foam Grip Handles
The Vaunn Medical Sock Kit is a ‘medical grade’ sock aid which is designed to fit a wide range of feet, ranging from the small and slender to much bigger people, including those who have swelling in their feet from various medical issues. The kit is quite easy to use and will suit people up to size 11 shoes.
This kit is ideal for people who are trying to get dressed with normal socks, but it may not work well with compression socks. Some people report that it requires a bit of upper body strength to operate. So it’s fine for a generally sprightly older person who has a temporary injury but may not be the best choice for someone who is slightly frailer.
It’s a small kit that does not take up a lot of space and that is reasonably priced, too.
RMS Premium 5-Piece Hip Knee Replacement Kit
This five-piece kit includes everything that someone who has just had a knee replacement might need, not just a sock aid but also a shoehorn, dressing stick, and other reachers and mobility tools. If someone close to you has had an injury, hip or knee replacement, then this kit could be a good choice for them.
It is robust, simple and does not require much skill, dexterity or strength to operate. Since it’s a five-piece kit that covers the most common tasks it is good value for money as well. If only it put your belt on for you too!
It may take a little while to get used to which stick to use for which purpose, but once your family member gets used to it, they should find that they gain a lot of confidence.
RMS 7-Piece Hip Knee Replacement Kit with Leg Lifter
RMS has produced a kit quite similar to their other one above. The kit includes a sock helper, reachers, grabbers, hooks, and a sponge. It’s affordably priced and should be invaluable for older people who are struggling with mobility. The kit is very well made and includes the most commonly needed tools for those with mobility issues. The sock helper may not be suitable for people with wide feet, but overall it’s a great kit.
Improving Your Mobility and Coping With Back Pain
A lot of people first experience difficulty with tasks such as putting on their socks as a result of sciatic back pain. Tension, back issues, tight hamstrings, and general mobility problems can all mount up. Taking some precautions to retain mobility early on can help to reduce the risk of long-term back problems, and ensure good health well into old age.
Even senior citizens can benefit from staying active; walking, practicing yoga (even wheelchair yoga), and performing light calisthenics can all ensure continued good mobility, strength, and proprioception, reducing the risk of falls and injury and maintaining the ability to do those day to day tasks such as getting dressed and attending to general personal hygiene.
RELATED GUIDE: Senior Socks for Foot Pain
If you or someone you care for has been struggling with mobility or has had a hip or knee replacement:
- Remember that staying mobile is important for recovery.
- Stay diligent with rehabilitation exercises
- Try to get out and get some fresh air whenever possible.
- Use personal independence aids instead of depending on family members for those basic tasks.
The latter point is important not because of the desire to “not be a burden”, but because being able to do those basic tasks alone is a good boost to a person’s well being.
Do you know of other sock helpers for the elderly? Please share your ideas and opinions in the comments below!