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:
Medical Ez-Tug Sock Aid Assist with Foam Grip Handles & Length Adjustable Cords
- Slide, tug, pull - the medical ez-tug sock aid eliminates the struggle and frustration involved while putting on socks, stockings or panty-hose. Simply slide, tug and pull. Makes life easier with 3 simple steps.
- Contoured design - latex-free, flexible plastic shell is contoured to the shape of your feet. Foam padded handle is slip-resistant and allows smooth, easy tugging.
- Minimizes injury - Reduces the risk of injury to your back, spine or arms due to the sudden pulling action/jerking motion while putting on socks.
- Versatile- length adjustable cord can be trimmed and adjusted to suit individual needs. Sock aid works on most feet sizes. (See sizing guide picture)
- Quality Assured - Product has undergone stringent testing and evaluation to ensure comfort and avoid injury. It is engineered to perfection with detailed emphasis on its contours, surface coating and trimmings. Purchase with confidence. Choose the original ez-tug sock aid!
The Eva 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 - Total Hip Knee Equipment Kit - Ideal for Recovering from Hip Replacement, Knee or Back Surgery, Mobility Tool for Moving and Dressing (32 Inch Reacher)
2 used from $30.70
- 5 PIECES KIT: 1x 32" Reacher, 1x Deluxe Molded Sock Aid with 38" Long Foam Handles, 1x 28" Long Dressing Stick, 1x 22" Long Handle Round Sponge and 1x 24" Long Plastic Shoe Horn.
- EXTEND YOUR REACH: Features 32" Long reacher grabber built up with lightweight aluminum with ergonomic handle for comfortable grip. Magnetic tip helps pick up small objects and Fitted with post to assist with dressing. Yellow clip fastens reachers to canes, walkers, wheelchairs and hospital bed rails to keep them nearby.
- DRESS INDEPENDENTLY: 28" Dressing Stick with a large vinyl coated "S" Hook to assist with putting on shirts, pulling up pants, skirts, or helping put on shoes or removing socks. Vinyl coated "C" Hook on opposite end for pulling zippers and shoelace loops. The Sock Aid allows to easily put on socks or stocking without bend over. A 24" long shoe horn is included to easily put on any type of shoe while standing.
- BATHING INDEPENDENTLY: A 22" long Bath Sponge making bathing without bending and twisting easier.
- MOST OFTEN RECOMMENDED BY THERAPISTS for post hip or knee surgery patients. LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY. 100% satisfaction guaranteed!
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.
Vive Sock Aid - Easy On and Off Stocking Slider - Donner Pulling Assist Device - Compression Sock Helper Aide Tool - Puller for Elderly, Senior, Pregnant, Diabetics - Pull Up Assistance Help
- EASILY PUT ON SOCKS: Easily put on your own socks or hosiery with the sock assist device. Perfect for those recovering from surgery, injury or those with limited mobility. Latex-free plastic shell contours to slide over the foot and heel, pulling up the sock with ease.
- COMFORT GRIP FOAM HANDLES: Each handle is built up with a 3 cm foam padding for a secure and comfortable grip.
- SLIP-RESISTANT CUFF: A wide, slip-resistant cuff ensures the sock does not slide off of the sock assist.
- ADJUSTABLE CORD LENGTH: Sock assist cords are 33” in length. Simple length adjustments can be made with the button adjustors.
- VIVE GUARANTEE: 60 day guarantee so you can purchase now with confidence.
The Vive sock aid is quite similar to the Eva sock slider. It is a 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.
Helping Hand Deluxe Hip Kit, 26-Inch
- The Complete Care Solution - all the essential tools in one handy kit-reaching, dressing, getting washed
- Falls Prevention - Make daily tasks safer and easier for those at risk from a fall reducing the chance of hospitalisation
- Simple Selection - Ideal if purchasing as a gift for a loved one or friend as you can ensure all of their needs will be met with the product selection included
- The Deluxe Kit contains a Classic Pro Reacher to avoid bending or reaching for items high and low; Soxon Sock Aid a super soft sock aid that helps to put on socks with ease; a Shoe Horn which reduces the need to bend down when putting on shoes;
- A Long-Handled Toe Foot Sponge to assist with bathing without the need to bend; Comes with a Handy Carry Bag secures all the essential products in one easy to carry and store pack
The Helping Hand Company has produced a kit quite similar to the one made by RMS. The kit includes a sock helper, shoehorn, reacher, and 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, 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!