Getting Dressed

Woman looking through clothes

Parkinson’s disease (PD) can make daily tasks more difficult to perform. Parkinson’s symptoms ― such as tremor or dyskinesia (involuntary, erratic, writhing movements of the face, arms, legs or trunk) ― can slow down the process of getting dressed. 

Changes to clothing and the dressing routine can reduce frustration. Give yourself time to get dressed and discover new clothing options to simplify your routine.

  • Take your time getting dressed. Hurrying can lead to stress, which can make Parkinson’s symptoms worse.
  • Consider waiting for a time to dress when your medications are working well and you have the best mobility possible.
  • Do a few stretching exercises before getting dressed to warm up muscles.
  • If one arm or leg has more stiffness, put this limb into the sleeve or pant leg first.
  • Sit down when dressing. Choose a chair with firm support and arms. Sitting on the edge of the bed to dress can lead to loss of balance and falling.
  • Use a footstool and consider assistive devices like long handled shoehorns to make it easier to put on shoes and socks.
  • Consider adaptive clothing tools such as a button hook, dressing stick, zipper pulls or sock aid helper.  

What to Wear?

Choose clothing styles and fabrics that make dressing easier.

  • Avoid velour and similar fabrics, which can create more friction with other surfaces and make it hard to dress or move during the day.
  • Wear non-skid socks instead of bathroom slippers, which can slide off your feet.
  • Avoid socks with tight elastic bands.
  • Wear lightweight, supportive shoes with Velcro closures or elastic shoelaces, or shoes that can be slipped on, which make it easier to put on and take off shoes.
  • Wear pants with an elastic waist since they are easier to pull up and down and have stretch. Many types of fashionable pants now come with elastic waistband, from jeans to dressy leggings and athleisure-wear.
  • Velcro can be sewn into existing clothes (replace buttons with Velcro closures). 
  • Elastic shoelaces and “lace locks” allow for tightening shoes without tying.

Adaptive Clothing

There are many companies that sell adaptive clothing that make it easier for you to get dressed. Below are some options:

  • ABL Denim: Casual denim for people with movement challenges, including people in wheelchairs
  • Ably Apparel: Water- and stain-resistant clothing in stretchy fabrics
  • Alium Adaptive Apparel: Adaptive pants, sweaters and nightgowns to help the caregiver and the wearer
  • Buck & Buck: Adaptive clothing, footwear and accessories for men and women
  • Fresh Comfort Bras: Easy-to-use intimate apparel for women
  • Guide Beauty: Universal makeup and tools that adapt to makeup applicators to help guide the hand for easier application
  • Kizik LogoKizik: Hands-free shoes that combine fashion, comfort and convenience
  • MagnaReady: Magnetic-front shirts for men and women
  • Speax: Discrete, fashionable, machine-washable incontinence wear for women
  • Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive: Clothes with modifications like magnetic buttons, bungee-cord and Velcro-brand closures for men and women.
  • Willow: Discrete, thin disposable, fashionable incontinence wear for men
  • Wings Pants: Tool for putting on pants and underwear
  • Xpand Laces: Adjustable elastic shoelaces

Adaptive Makeup and Hair Tips

For many people with Parkinson’s, applying makeup can be a challenge ― especially when fine motor skills are needed.  

  • Switch to skincare products with a pump mechanism or transferring your preferred products to bottles with a pump. 
  • Try to apply makeup sitting instead of standing. When possible, rest your arm on a surface to apply makeup. Consider purchasing a vanity mirror so you can apply makeup sitting at a surface in your home.
  • Using foam tubing grips can help provide more surface area for hand-held items, like brushes. 
  • Consider purchasing a hair dryer stand you can attach to a surface. 

For Care Partners 

Advancing Parkinson’s disease (PD) can make daily tasks more difficult to perform. Getting dressed becomes a slower, more challenging activity and care partners often need to assist. Changes to clothing and the dressing routine can improve safety and reduce frustration. 

Read our Caregiving: Dressing article for tips and our CareMAP: Dressing video, which walks care partners through some clothing modifications and the dressing routine to improve safety and reduce frustration.

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