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10 Tips for Choosing Clothing for Elderly Loved Ones

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

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Choosing clothing for elderly loved ones involves comfort, accessibility, safety, and personal style. But where should you start? Here are our top 10 tips to guide your selection process when choosing clothing for the elderly.

Understanding the Specific Clothing Requirements of Seniors

Let's take a look at the unique clothing needs of many seniors.

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Mobility Challenges

Elderly individuals may face mobility issues, making certain clothes impractical. Therefore, ease of movement must be a priority when selecting attire.

Sensory Changes

Ageing can bring about sensory changes. Clothes must not only be easy to put on but also accommodate alterations in temperature sensitivity and diminished fine motor skills.

Health Conditions

Health conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes, can make specific clothing requirements essential. Comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict blood flow or aggravate sensitive skin is crucial.

10 Tips for Choosing Clothing for Elderly Loved Ones

Tip 1: Choose comfortable clothing

Fabric Choices When choosing clothes for the elderly, comfort comes first. Natural fabrics, such as cotton or linen, are gentle on the skin and offer breathability.

Fit and Size A well-fitted garment contributes to overall comfort. It should be the correct size - not too tight to restrict movement, nor too loose to risk entanglement.

Tip 2: Accessibility for Dressing and Undressing

Clothing Features for the Elderly

Clothing designed specifically for seniors often features easy-access designs. Velcro fastenings, front closures, and loose sleeves can make dressing less challenging.

Adaptability in Clothing

Adaptive clothing, such as garments with magnetic buttons or side-opening trousers, simplify the process of dressing and undressing, preserving dignity and autonomy.

Tip 3: Safety Considerations

Choosing Safe Footwear Footwear plays a crucial role in an elderly individual's safety. Opt for shoes with non-slip soles to prevent falls and make sure they're easy to put on and take off.

Minimising Tripping Hazards Avoid long, loose clothing that could cause tripping. Garments like dressing gowns or trousers should be an appropriate length.

Tip 4: Easy Maintenance and Durability

Washing and Cleaning Choose garments that are straightforward to clean and maintain. They should withstand regular washing without fading or losing shape.

Long-Lasting Fabrics Opt for fabrics that are known for their durability to help clothes remain in good condition despite frequent use and washing.

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Tip 5: Personal Style

Reflecting Personal Tastes Despite practical considerations, an elderly individual's personal style should never be overlooked. They have their own tastes, and the clothes they wear should respect and reflect this.

Colours and Patterns Bright colours can lift spirits, and familiar patterns can evoke comforting memories. Don't shy away from incorporating them into the wardrobe.

Tip 6: Value for Money

When buying clothes for elderly individuals, especially those with mobility issues, it is important to consider the value for money in the long term, rather than just the upfront cost. This is especially true when it comes to specialised adaptive clothing designed to make dressing easier.

Adaptive clothing is typically designed with features like Velcro fastenings, magnetic buttons, elastic waists, open-back designs, and side or front openings.

These designs can significantly simplify the process of getting dressed and undressed, potentially reducing the strain on both the individual and any caregivers.

They also tend to be comfortable and adjustable, accommodating for changes in weight or swelling due to medical conditions.

While these garments may have a higher initial cost compared to conventional clothing, they often provide value over time in several ways:

  • Ease of Use: Adaptive clothes can save time and reduce frustration for both the wearer and caregivers. This ease of use can significantly improve the quality of life for the elderly and those around them.

  • Reduced Risk of Injury: Struggling with buttons, zippers, or tight clothing can increase the risk of falls or other injuries. By making dressing easier, adaptive clothing can contribute to safer daily routines.

  • Durability: Specialised clothing is often made to be sturdy and long-lasting, which means less frequent replacement costs over time.

  • Health and Hygiene: For elderly individuals with certain health conditions, adaptive clothing can facilitate the use of medical devices or make it easier to change clothes and maintain personal hygiene, potentially reducing healthcare costs.

  • Independence: Adaptive clothing can help elderly individuals maintain their independence for longer, reducing the need for assisted living or professional care.

It's essential to consider these long-term benefits when purchasing clothing for elderly individuals, especially those with mobility issues. While the upfront cost of adaptive clothing can be higher, the added convenience, safety, and durability often make these garments a wise investment in the long run.

image of stylish senior man

Tip 7: Warmth and Insulation for Cool Weather

Older adults often feel colder than younger people. Consider clothes with good insulation, such as thermal vests, to provide added warmth.

Here are some insulating materials that are good for elderly people to wear:

Merino Wool: Merino wool is highly insulating and great at regulating body temperature, making it an excellent material for elderly individuals during colder months. It's also soft and comfortable against the skin, and it wicks moisture away, which can help to prevent the wearer from getting too cold if they sweat.

Fleece: Fleece is a synthetic fabric that provides excellent insulation. It's lightweight, soft, and easy to care for. It's also great at retaining heat and wicking moisture away from the body, making it a comfortable choice for winter clothing.

Down: Down (the soft layer of feathers closest to a bird’s skin, typically from a duck or goose) is a highly effective insulator and is commonly used in jackets and quilts. It's very lightweight yet can provide exceptional warmth.

Flannel: Flannel is a soft, warm material often used for shirts, sheets, and pajamas. It's comfortable against the skin and provides good insulation, making it an excellent choice for colder weather.

Cotton-Blend Thermal Knit: This is often used for thermal underwear and is designed to trap body heat while still being breathable.

Cashmere: Though on the more expensive side, cashmere is a type of wool that is both lightweight and very warm. It is softer and approximately three times more insulating than regular wool.

Microfibre: Microfibre materials are synthetic and designed to trap heat. They're often used in blankets and winter clothing. They are lightweight, soft, and easy to care for.

Remember that while these materials are generally safe and comfortable for most people, individual preferences and allergies may vary. Some elderly individuals may find certain materials irritating to their skin, so it's crucial to know their preferences and any sensitivities they may have.

Tip 8: Lightweight Materials for Warm Weather

Elderly individuals often benefit from lightweight materials for clothing because they are generally easier to handle, more comfortable to wear, and less likely to contribute to overheating.

Lightweight fabrics also often provide better breathability and are more suitable for individuals with sensitive or fragile skin, which is common in older adults. Here are some lightweight materials that are good for elderly people to wear:

Cotton: Cotton is one of the most common materials for lightweight clothing. It's breathable, soft, and comfortable against the skin. This fabric can absorb moisture, allowing heat to escape from the body, and thus keeping you cool.

Linen: Linen is another excellent material for elderly people. It is very light and breathable and has the additional benefit of being bacteria-resistant, which can be a significant advantage for people with compromised immune systems.

Silk: Silk is a luxurious, lightweight material that is also good for the elderly. It's gentle on the skin and can help regulate body temperature. However, it requires more careful washing and handling.

Rayon: Rayon or viscose is a man-made material derived from wood pulp. It is a soft, lightweight, and breathable fabric. It's also highly absorbent and dries faster than cotton.

Bamboo: Clothing made from bamboo is soft, breathable, and extremely absorbent. It's also naturally hypoallergenic, which can be beneficial for people with sensitive skin. Additionally, bamboo has natural thermoregulating properties, helping to keep the wearer cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Modal: Modal fabric is a type of rayon and is a semi-synthetic fabric made from beech tree pulp. It's incredibly soft, lightweight, and breathes well. Modal drapes well and keeps its shape, even after washing.

When choosing materials for elderly individuals, it's not only about the weight of the material. Consideration should also be given to the ease of care (some materials require dry cleaning or special washing instructions) and potential allergenic properties.

Tip 9: Avoid Tight Closures

Buttons, zippers, and tight cuffs can be difficult for seniors to navigate. Instead, look for clothes with easy closures, like snaps or Velcro.

Tip 10: Positive Association

Clothing can stimulate memories and emotions. Items that the wearer associates with happy times or that are similar to their favourite old clothes can bring joy.

Here's where Adaptive Clothing Australia can help. We can make alterations to your loved ones' favourite garments make the dressing process easier. This way, they can continue to enjoy wearing the clothes they love with less hassle! Choosing clothes for the elderly is an exercise in empathy, understanding, and respect. These 10 tips can guide you towards thoughtful choices that consider the unique needs and tastes of our loved ones in their later years.

Choosing Clothing for the Elderly FAQs

1. What fabrics are most comfortable for the elderly? Cotton and linen are excellent choices as they are soft, breathable, and generally non-irritating to the skin.

2. What are some safety considerations when choosing clothes for the elderly? Slip-resistant shoes, well-fitted clothes, and designs that reduce tripping hazards are important for safety.

3. How does adaptive clothing help the elderly? Adaptive clothing simplifies dressing and undressing. It includes features like magnetic buttons, Velcro fastenings, and side-opening designs.

4. What should I look for when choosing colours and patterns for elderly clothes? Opt for bright, cheerful colours and familiar patterns. They can boost mood and evoke pleasant memories.

5. How important is personal style when choosing clothes for the elderly? Very important! Just like younger people, seniors have their own style. Their clothes should allow them to express their individuality.

6. How can I get clothing adapted?

Contact Adaptive Clothing Australia and we can discuss your requirements and provide a quote over the phone or email. Contact our friendly and caring team today.


About Adaptive Clothing Australia

We are a Brisbane-based, family run business with more than 22 years' experience working with aged care mobility products and clothing. We pride ourselves on delivering quality services with a caring, personal touch. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing you with the most accurate and reliable information to help you make informed decisions about your adaptive clothing needs.

Affiliate links

Adaptive Clothing Australia has established affiliate partnerships with reputable healthcare product providers. When you make a purchase through our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. These commissions help support our mission to provide valuable information and resources to our readers. We appreciate your support and trust in our recommendations.

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