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Parkinson's Clothing: Tips to Dress for the 5 Stages of Parkinson's Disease

a doctor holding a sign that reads parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease has been categorised into five distinct stages. These stages serve as a valuable tool for both home caregivers and healthcare professionals to understand the needs of individuals suffering from Parkinson's disease (PD).

These needs may include adaptive Parkinson's clothing to address challenges linked with fine motor skills and dexterity.

Stage One: Early PD Onset

In the initial stage of Parkinson's disease, individuals experience mild symptoms that, for the most part, do not disrupt their daily activities. Typically, tremors and other movement issues are limited to one side of the body. Changes in posture, walking, and facial expressions may become noticeable.

Suggested clothing for stage one Parkinson's disease:

At stage one of the disease, standard off the rack retail clothing can still be easily worn ensuring continued independence.

  • Shirts / Blouses – Any closure type

  • Pants / Slacks – Any closure type

Stage Two: Progressing Challenges

As Parkinson's progresses, tremors, rigidity, and other motor difficulties extend to both sides of the body, or even involve the midline, affecting the neck and trunk. Problems with walking and maintaining proper posture often become evident.

Although people at this stage can still manage on their own, daily tasks become more challenging and time-consuming, leading to increased frustration.

Suggested adaptive clothing for stage two Parkinson's disease:

At stage two of the disease, adaptive clothes can help reduce frustration and make dressing easier. This is where the benefits of adaptive clothing come into play.

Shirts / Blouses – Velcro buttons or Magnetic buttons.

  • Ease of Use: Traditional buttons can be tricky to maneuver, especially for those with diminished finger dexterity and fine motor skills. Velcro and magnetic buttons eliminate the need for intricate finger movements, enabling individuals to fasten and unfasten their shirts more easily.

  • Speed: These alternative fastenings can significantly reduce the time it takes to get dressed, making the process less tedious.

  • Reduction in Frustration: As the physical act of buttoning becomes more difficult, it can lead to feelings of frustration and dependence. Velcro and magnetic buttons can mitigate these feelings by offering a more straightforward solution.

Pants / Slacks – Elastic waistbands.

  • Comfort: Elastic waist pants for men and women can adjust to the individual's waist size without being too tight, ensuring a comfortable fit.

  • Easy Wear: Pulling on pants with an elastic waistband requires fewer motions than fastening pants with buttons or zippers, which can be especially useful for those with impaired balance and coordination.

  • Accommodation for Fluctuations: Parkinson's medications and symptoms can sometimes result in weight fluctuations. Pants with elastic waistbands can adapt to these changes, providing a consistently comfortable fit.

Stage Three: Mid-Stage Adjustments

Considered the mid-stage of Parkinson's, this phase is characterised by a growing loss of balance, resulting in impaired balance when turning or when subjected to external forces. Falls become more frequent, and the risk of skin irritation grows.

Suggested adaptive clothing for stage three Parkinson's disease:

At stage three, the adaptions used on garments in stage two will still make dressing easier.

  • Shirts / Blouses – Velcro buttons or Magnetic buttons.

  • Pants / Slacks – Elastic waistbands.

As falls become more likely from stage 3 onward, it's crucial to consider fall safety products, such as Hipsavers and Headsavers.

Stage Four: Advanced Struggles

By the time one reaches Stage Four of Parkinson's, symptoms are fully developed and significantly disabling. While individuals can still walk and stand without assistance, many may require a cane or walker for added safety. Extensive help is needed for activities of daily living.

Suggested adaptive clothing for stage four Parkinson's disease:

At stage four, the motor challenges, combined with muscle stiffness and potential tremors, can make the act of dressing particularly difficult and sometimes even painful.

This is where open back designs, like those from Petal Back Clothing come to the rescue.

a display of adaptive clothing shirts

Open Back Designs

Ease of Dressing: Open back shirts or blouses can be easily draped around the individual without the need for them to raise their arms or twist their torso, a movement that could be challenging due to rigidity and tremors. After draping, the garment is simply fastened at the back, making it a less intrusive process.

Reduced Physical Strain: Instead of navigating arms through tight sleeves or pulling a garment over the head – actions that could exacerbate tremors or cause discomfort – the individual or caregiver can gently wrap the open back clothing around the person, minimising physical strain.

Safety and Comfort: Open back designs eliminate the need for the wearer to balance on one foot or to twist in potentially destabilising ways. For Parkinson's patients who already face an increased risk of falls, this design reduces one potential hazard from their daily routine.

Dignity and Independence: Even if a caregiver's assistance is needed, open back designs can make the process quicker and less intrusive, preserving the individual's sense of dignity. The design is discreet, ensuring that the wearer doesn't feel or look overly 'medicalised' or different from others.

Healthcare Access: For those who need regular medical check-ups or treatments, open back designs provide easy access to the upper body without the need for full undressing. This can be beneficial for examinations, physiotherapy sessions, or any other medical interventions.

At Adaptive Clothing Australia we can also customise existing garments to create an adaption with an open back.

Pants/Slacks with Full Side Velcro or Zipper Openings

The muscle stiffness and tremors associated with Parkinson's can also make the act of stepping into and pulling up pants challenging. Pants that feature full side Velcro or zipper openings offer several benefits:

Ease of Dressing and Undressing: These pants can be opened fully on the side, allowing the wearer to place them around their legs rather than pulling them up from the feet. This means that they can be put on or taken off without the need to balance on one foot or bend excessively.

Adaptability for Seated Dressing: For those who might be wheelchair-bound or prefer to dress while seated, these pants are particularly helpful. The side openings ensure they can be worn without the need to stand, which can be especially beneficial for those with impaired balance.

Quick and Secure Fastening: Velcro and zippers offer quick fastening solutions. Especially for those with compromised fine motor skills, a Velcro closure can be a blessing. It allows for easy and secure fastening without the fuss of buttons or traditional zippers.

Stage Five: Profound Dependence Stage

Five marks the most advanced and debilitating phase of Parkinson's. Stiffness in the legs may render standing or walking impossible. As a result, individuals are either bedridden or confined to a wheelchair unless aided. Around-the-clock care is common to assist with every aspect of daily life.

Suggested adaptive clothing for stage five Parkinson's disease

At stage five, assisted dressing is essential.

Adapted clothing to simplify the dressing process by carers or loved ones can be arranged after consultation with one of the Adaptive Clothing Australia team.

Important Note: Magnetic buttons are not advised to be adapted onto any garment where the wearer has internal electronic medical devices.

Caring for a Loved One with Parkinson's Disease

For those caring for a loved one with Parkinson's disease, here are 7 valuable starting tips on how to approach your caregiver's role:

Open and Honest Communication

Avoid the caregiver-patient trap, where one becomes the "nurse" and the other feels helpless. Discuss the needs of both openly and determine when appropriate assistance is needed.

Learn About Parkinson's

Seek educational resources to better understand the disease and its progression. Organizations like Parkinson Foundations can provide valuable information to assist your caregiving role.

Accompany your Loved One to Medical Appointments

Attend doctor's appointments, even if your loved one can manage independently at first. Bring questions, take notes, and provide your unique perspective on the increasing symptoms. Keep a record of appointments and medication details.

Understand Insurance

Familiarise yourself with your health insurance, particularly coverage for prescriptions, therapy, and unexpected expenses. It's essential to have clarity regarding what you are entitled to.

Stay Observant

Watch for changes in symptoms, abilities, and moods. Keep an eye on your loved one's capabilities, especially after medication or therapy adjustments. Be prepared for discussions about safety, such as driving limitations, with the help of a social worker or therapist.

Adaptability and Flexibility

Recognise that symptoms may vary over time and from day to day. Be patient and adaptable when plans are disrupted by a challenging day. Discuss the delegation of tasks and responsibilities to ease potential frustration.

Medication Management

Ensure medications are taken consistently. Establish a reliable system, such as smartphone reminders or visible calendars, to support your loved one in taking their medication regularly. This consistency can significantly impact both of your lives and well-being.

To help people with Parkinson's get dressed more easily, there are adaptive clothing is an excellent option. Parkinson’s clothing features struggle free dressing solutions and is designed to resolve the dilemmas faced by Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers.


Customised Adaptive Clothing for Parkinson's Disease

Our team at Adaptive Clothing Australia can provide women and men with Parkinson's disease a uniquely personalised service.

We take your favourite garments and tailor them to suit your individual needs so you can continue enjoying that special skirt, top, pants or dress.

We achieve this by incorporating the closure type of your choice, whether it's a side zipper with an easy-to-pull loop, convenient front Velcro, or even magnetic closures.

Contact our team today:

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Disclaimer: The content provided in this blog is for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only. We are not medical professionals and the information should not be considered as professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for medical advice and treatment.

Affiliate Disclaimer: Some of the links in this blog are affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through these links. We recommend products and services because we believe they are of value to our readers, not because of the commissions we may earn.


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