As hard as it may be to believe, there is an entirely new concept in fashion design. Advancing age as well as certain medical and physical conditions make dressing oneself difficult, even with another’s help. Immobility makes it hard for a carer to assist in dressing. However, several clothing manufacturers, including Tommy Hilfiger, are stepping up to with answers to this problem. Adaptive clothing lines help people with a variety of disabilities to dress themselves, and help care providers to more easily and more effectively do their job.
Arthritis, muscular and neurological diseases, and injury all make this most basic activity of daily living problematic. This in turn negatively affects an individual’s ability to remain independent, and independence is one of the most difficult freedoms to give up.
Adaptive Clothing Improves Dementia Care
Incontinence is one of the symptoms often associated with dementia, especially later stages. CareZips (image) is designed with three zippers. Two side zippers positioned slightly forward on the body eliminate discomfort from pressure. Furthermore, this unique design makes it possible to change adult briefs without getting out of bed.
Molly Dye is the creator of CareZips. She came up with her idea after witnessing a care provider struggle to dress Molly’s mother. Other clothing designers make simple modifications to clothing that make it easier for a person with limited mobility or dexterity to dress himself or herself. Velcro and magnetic closures, for example, take the place of buttons and zippers. Loafers or Velcro closures eliminate the need to lace and tie shoes.
The Future of Adaptive Clothing
The need for adaptive clothing for a multitude of conditions and situations is not likely to change soon. Massachusetts Institute of Technology is taking up the challenge. Grace Teo and Alice Tin created the OpenStyleLab at that prestigious university. Students from all over the world who enroll in the program are challenged to create clothing that is both functional and stylish for people with mental and physical disabilities.
The concept of aging in place is trending. There is a National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC). We see specialists and consultants pop up almost daily with help for elderly persons who wish to remain at home for as long as possible. At some point people with dementia need more care than they can provide for themselves. Until that time, innovations like adaptive clothing will help to maintain independence while preserving dignity.