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Clothing for Seniors Should Be Stylish and Accessible

If your loved one has always loved clothing and takes pride in dressing well, you should encourage them to do so again.

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There’s no reason why seniors who are facing challenges of aging shouldn’t continue to dress stylishly. Several clothing lines on the market cater to the needs of older adults. And your local Home Instead® office can provide the support to make looking good a snap for your senior loved one.

Q. My 80-year-old mother has always dressed impeccably, but lately she doesn’t seem as interested in fashion and has more difficulty dressing herself. What can I do to help?

It’s very possible that the difficulty your mother is having dressing herself is affecting her interest in fashion. If your mom has always loved clothing and took pride in dressing well, you should encourage her to do so again. Helping your mother revive her love of clothing should do wonders for her spirits.

First, look for items that are both stylish and include special features that can help your mother dress, such as pants, skirts, blouses and shirts with Velcro closures or grommet snaps. Wrap-around and reversible front-to-back designs also are more accessible to seniors with arthritis and other health problems. Choose half-open back fashions for limited mobility. Such garments do not require snaps or Velcro, but easily slip over the head with a yoke that overlaps into place.

 If your mom has weight-bearing problems, select garments with full-back openings and a snap or Velcro closure at each shoulder, which will help her comfortably dress while remaining seated. Select no-waist garments with detachable belts, which allow seniors to place the belt where it is the most comfortable. Purchase zip-front dresses with long, front toggle zippers to help with hand dexterity. Choose clothing with larger openings that can enable her to easily put the garment over her head in a seated position or step into the garment opening with minimal struggle.

A few companies specialize in clothing for seniors. Two of these are Silvert’s and Wishing Wells Collections, a company started by Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island. You can view both of their fashions online at and or order a catalog from Silvert’s by calling 1-800-387-7088.

Allow your mom to choose her clothing, if possible. You can provide additional assistance by laying out her items, if necessary. Lay out socks and shoes, followed by tops or shirts, slacks or pants, and underwear on top. If you can’t be there to help your mom, consider hiring a professional caregiver, such as one from the local Home Instead® office. Home Instead CAREGiversSM are trained to assist seniors in a variety of ways, including dressing, in an effort to help them remain more independent.

Last revised: August 16, 2011

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