Monday, June 9, 2008

Getting Dressed

Having grandkids reminds you just how hard some things are! Being in our business also makes us appreciate this as well. Just the other day as I watched one of the young grandsons tying his shoes, a fairly recent accomplishment for him, I reflected on just how amazing it is that anyone actually learns this task. How on earth do you teach this skill, given how many maneuvers are really involved? And yet, day after day, young ones learn how to tie their shoes. It’s not until something else intervenes that causes most of us to think about this graceful act of ours and just how difficult it can be.

Everyday we meet people, young and old, who are faced with this challenge and so many others. It’s got me thinking about getting dressed and how important this is to our independence. Even my two-and-a-half year old granddaughter exerts force now in choosing her own clothes, putting on her socks, wearing her princess shoes. Of course it’s something we want always to be able to do. And yet, events happen – some permanent, some temporary, some just a natural part of the aging process – that bring us face to face with the prospects that doing what we want is not quite as easy, maybe even virtually impossible, as it used to be.

There are options with shoes, of course. There are slip-ons and the ever-present Velcro. We love our X-tenex shoelaces that once threaded through your sneakers, dress shoes or hiking boots, create an elastic give to your shoes, allowing you to slip them on without having to tie or untie them. I have them on my tennis shoes. We even gave them to the grandkids until their mothers suggested we let them practice tying their shoes. Oops!

Socks can present a problem, especially if you have recently had hip or knee surgery where you must keep bending, especially at certain angles, under control. Lifting a leg to the knee position is also challenging as we get older. The amazing invention of the sock aid makes this activity doable for most again. Its simple, easy to use design is nothing short of a miracle for some! Compression stockings are always a bit more challenging. We love the Juzo Slippee Gator. Made of parachute type nylon with long handles, you slip the gator inside the sock or stocking, drop it to the floor, and using the non-slip pad that comes with the Slippee, you rock your foot into the sock, finally pulling the slippee and the sock along with it over your foot and up your leg. Another incredible creation!

Clothing provides a lot of possibilities, too, what with tee shirts and skirts, sweatpants and others with elasticized waists. The amazing button hook, whose design is over 200 years old. The original button hook came about with high button shoes as a tool to assist grabbing the buttons and pulling them through the eyelets. Gloves, a necessity for Victorian ladies, were tight fitting and also required button hooks to help fasten the top of the glove. These vintage button hooks, usually made of silver, are now collectors’ items. The modern day button hook is a much easier tool to use than those of yesteryear, and won’t cost you nearly as much as the vintage pieces. By inserting the hook through the buttonhole, you can grab the button on the other side and slide it through the opening. There are a variety of sizes and different hand grips to ensure you find the perfect tool.

Sewing cuff buttons on with elastic thread also provides more freedom putting on and taking off shirts. Adding Velcro strip inside the placket, along with a few other changes, will make button down shirts accessible without having to consider buttons at all. We have a lot of ideas about to adapt clothing, although finding accessible AND affordable clothing is more of a challenge. We are happy to have found Janska easy to wear clothing and love that it’s a Colorado-based company besides. The wraps, mocsocks, and jackets are well-made, stylish and functional, the perfect combination as far as we are concerned.

Dressing sticks, long-handled shoehorns, and the Shoe Boot Valet are additional tools that bring independence to your day-to-day activity of dressing.

We see an awful lot of hip and knee replacements going on these days. In the lead up to the surgery, you will want to get your “kit” together for when you leave the hospital and have those early days of recovery. You will surprised at just how difficult some of the everyday tasks can be when you cannot bend, twist, or reach. We help you package these tools so you are ready and able to stay independent through the first weeks of recovery. Many of the items above are suggested, depending on the nature of your surgery, in addition to a host of other tools, such as reachers, bath benches, raised toilet seats, bed wedges, ice packs and a variety of brain fitness tools to keep your mind active while your body recovers.

Tell us your tips and tools for dressing if you (or a loved one) have challenges getting dressed. Send us a comment with your contact information and we’ll put you into a drawing for a pair of the terrific X-tenex shoelaces.

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