Dressing Aids: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Everyone knows the timeless children’s song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” It’s one that teaches kids their body parts, but is also used to help them learn basic dressing skills. For loved ones who need help dressing, this song is a good reminder of where to start when it comes to discussing dressing aids.
A main dressing challenge for a loved one may be the once-simple task of putting on a shirt. A dressing stick is very helpful when needing to put a garment over the head—mainly coats, sweaters, shirts or dresses. This tool is available in a variety of lengths and materials, though plastic-coated ones do reduce scratches and snags. Some dressing hooks are even dual-hooked, while others have a single “C” or “S” shaped hook. The “S” shape is a push/pull hook and is especially useful for a loved one with the use of only one hand. Large foam handles are available for those with arthritis.
One of the most frustrating dressing tasks to manage is the buttoning/zippering of shirts. Once the shirt is on, the next challenge begins: locating, grasping, moving and closing the tiny zippers and buttons. The assistive device community has taken notice and developed a variety of rings, pulls and grips to solve this problem. Velcro buttons can easily replace existing ones and stick together for a simple fix to the button dilemma.
A button hook consists of a wire end which is hooked over the button and pulled through button holes easily. Zipper rings and pulls are available in a variety of sizes and styles, but offer the same basic assistance. They hook onto the zipper of a shirt (or pants) and allow a loved one to pull it up and down with ease.
Pants are another dressing issue, especially for someone who can’t bend as they did in their younger years. Again, the dressing hook is a common solution for this problem.
Belts are even made adaptable for those who need one. A one-handed belt simply snaps, slides and is secure. It stays put onto the first belt loop, allowing a loved one to slide it through the rest without losing grip. Then, it is secured with the other end and closes with a snap. These belts come in a range of sizes and colors as well.
As with pants, footwear can be a daunting task for anyone with limited bending abilities. Many options are on the market today, assuring a caregiver that their loved one can remain independent for as long as possible.
Sock aids come in a wealth of options, and work much like shoehorns in aiding someone putting on stockings. The socks are placed around a rigid mold, and a person can easily slip their foot into the sock, removing the mold.
Shoehorns are not a new invention by any means. Extended and telescopic shoehorns, however, have made an impression on those who have used them and found they make simple shoe fitting easier.
Elastic shoelaces are another one of those items that people, once they try them, are happy to have found and wish they had earlier. Because they look identical to traditional laces, no one will ever be the wiser that a loved one is using something different, and it skips the tying all together.
While a caregiver may not be singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” while shopping for a loved one’s dressing aids, they may want to keep it in mind. There are many options available today which can give a loved one the independence they deserve and desire, while also giving a caregiver peace of mind.
Today’s Caregiver magazine (caregiver.com), launched in 1995, is the first national magazine for all family and professional caregivers. Each issue includes articles on vital caregiving issues and caregiving resources. Cover interviews include Debbie Reynolds, Dixie Carter, Valerie Harper, Della Reese and Clay Aiken, among many others. © Caregiver.com, Inc.