As your loved one ages, you may find that due to decreased flexibility and dexterity they may experience difficulty completing daily tasks, such as getting dressed. Fear not! There are many different tools, called “adaptive equipment”, that can assist Mom or Dad with getting dressed.
See the list below for a quick description of six of the most frequently used adaptive dressing equipment tools:
Long-Handled Shoe Horn
We are sure you have seen one of these guys before! Shoe horns can greatly assist with getting shoes on for those than have difficulty reaching down to their feet or issues with fine motor coordination. Make sure the shoe horn has a nice long handle or else it kind of defeats the whole purpose.
Also known as a “grabber,” this tool is more commonly used to pick things up off the floor. Reachers are great for those who have difficulty reaching down to their feet due to limited flexibility or pain at their hips or back. This tool can be used to put on pants by grabbing onto the waistband and lowering to the floor. Reachers can also be used to assist with putting shoes on. Be sure to purchase a reacher that has more of a precise grasp, such as this one. We do NOT recommend that you get the kind of reacher that has large suction cup tips as these are more cumbersome to use during dressing tasks.
You might not be as familiar with this tool - it is basically a wooden stick that has hooks on either end. A dressing stick can be used to pull pants on by hooking into belt loops. However, in our opinion, if your loved one has trouble pulling their pants on you might as well get a reacher as you will get more bang for your buck. A dressing stick is a good alternative if Mom has poor grip strength and can’t operate a reacher.
Also known as a “sock donner.” Whoever invented this magical little device is a genius! This tool is used to put socks on - great for those who have a hard time reaching down to their feet due to decreased flexibility, pain or issues with dexterity. Sock aids come in either a hard plastic or a flexible terry cloth material. We recommend hard plastic if Dad has limited finger dexterity, but the flexible terry cloth if he has big feet or is prone to edema in his legs.
This piece of adaptive equipment is used for buttoning buttons - great for those that have decreased fine motor skills and dexterity. You can usually purchase one that has a “zipper pull” on the opposite end, which is basically a hook to assist with pulling zippers if there are dexterity issues.
Elastic shoe laces
Basically, elastic shoe laces allow Mom to keep her laces tied and simply slip her shoes on and off. Again, great for someone who has dexterity issues and trouble tying their shoes, or someone who can’t bend down to reach their feet due to flexibility or pain issues.
Most adaptive equipment can be purchased online at sites like Amazon.com or on medical supply websites, and may also be found at your local pharmacy. If you or your loved one has any questions about how to use any piece of adaptive equipment or what kind would be most appropriate for Mom or Dad, ask your doctor for an Occupational Therapy referral for adaptive equipment training.
Please refer to our post on “Get Dressed with Success” for more tips. Hopefully with increased knowledge of the different pieces of adaptive equipment available, your loved one will be able to dress themselves without assistance and continue to age in place!