Health

Adaptive clothing takes stress out of dressing special-needs patients

Adaptive clothing for those with limited mobility can help reduce risk of injury and enhances a patient's self-esteem

A simple task such as fastening a button and pulling up a zip can be a daily struggle for the elderly and those who have limited mobility because of complex medical conditions.

Fortunately, a range of adaptive apparel specially designed for comfort and convenience but feel and look like regular clothes is now available.

With attention to details such as Velcro in place of zips and buttons, rear closures and adjustable and removable components, these clothes reduce any risk of injury from the muscle strain of struggling to fit into ill-fitting standard clothes.

There is always the flexibility of customising designs and colours according to the wearer's preference, which is important when it comes to enhancing his self-esteem and psychological well-being.

The use of high quality materials and fibre that is non-abrasive and gentle have now made adaptive clothing a viable option for daily wear.

Online stores that supply such apparel include PurpleThreads - a local social enterprise which also has an outlet at Yishun Community Hospital - and Silvert's, while therapeutic footwear can be found at The Diabetic Shop and The ShoeCo.

ONE-PIECE JUMPSUITS

As people with Alzheimer's or dementia may have a tendency to undress in public, these jumpsuits have long zippers and more fasteners at the back to prevent inappropriate disrobing.

It prevents those at risk of falling from trying to voluntarily change themselves. Loose sleeves and elasticised waist ensure good fit and comfort.

OPEN-BACK TOPS

This is to help those with paralysis, Parkinson's, arthritis or the wheelchair-bound who have limited mobility and need to be dressed while seated. They feature snap-on fasteners on shoulders and the top that can be easily slipped on from the front without the patient having to raise his arms or struggle with narrow neck openings.

OPEN-SEAT PANTS

Tailored in such a way that the waistband fastens at the side or the back of the waist, open-seat pants allow easy access to the rear, with an overlapping flap to cover the lower back torso.

These are useful for people with incontinence and limited mobility issues to enable a quick change, and are loosely fitted to accommodate incontinence aids discreetly and comfortably.

THERAPEUTIC FOOTWEAR

This is for people who have lost their range of motion, those suffering from arthritis, or swollen feet and legs from diabetes, and are susceptible to foot diseases.

They come with removable insoles and fillers such as arch supports, lifts, wedges and heels to prevent injuries and compensate for and support limited mobility.

  • Rocker bottom shoes have thick soles to help relieve the pressure under the ball of the foot. The heels are round, and limit motion in the ankle and mid-foot, making walking less painful. These are ideal for those with arthritis.

  • Extra-wide footwear is designed specially for oedema sufferers who have water retention issues that leads to swollen feet. These have a wide sole and toe box, a low and firm heel for extra support and Velcro straps to accommodate the size of the feet when swollen. Some have removable insoles for extra arch support.

  • Diabetic shoes and socks protect the feet of diabetics prone to foot ulcers and fungal infections. The shoes help relieve pressure on the bottom of the foot and can be paired with special anti-microbial or anti-fungal socks to prevent foot conditions from worsening.

The writer is a registered nurse and caregiving trainer at Active Global Caregivers, which provides professional and affordable home-based care and nursing services for the elderly with complex medical conditions.

WELLNESS & BEAUTY