clothes for the very old

My mom has shrunk out of most of her clothes (most of which she’s owned for the past forty or so years). On top of that, the fabrics tend not to be wash-and-wear, a quality that we both need her clothes to have for different reasons.
Many really elderly people, including my mom, have thick waistlines. Some also have osteoporosis, which means their upper backs are rounded and so clothes with no “give” are uncomfortable. Some also have arthritis, so it becomes difficult to put clothes on over their heads. And they often have sensitive skin that irritates easily. My mom, for example, has all of those issues.
But just try to find
1. pull-on knit pants with elastic waists that DO NOT constrict and pockets (for all that Kleenex)
2. knit “blouses” with longer sleeves and snaps instead of buttons.
3. any “adaptive” clothes that are NOT in garish prints, primary colors, iron-necessary cotton, decorated with appliqued bunnies, and totally frumpy.
i wind up doctoring up whatever clothing I can find that might fit her and her current lifestyle. For example, I found cotton knit pique button front polo shirts, but they had short sleeves. So I cut the lower part of the sleeves from some of her old blouses and sewed them on to make the short sleeves longer. Of course, I have to help her button the buttons, but at least she doesn’t have go through the painful motions of raising her arms to put on an overhead knit shirt.
I have to undo the waistband of every pair of knit pants I get her so that I can add pieces of elastic and make the waist comfortable for her. She has a problem with underpants being too tight on the waist as well. I wind up snipping the elastic, and eventually the whole garment unravels.
With so many of us somewhat vain women quickly ascending into that “very old” category, I think it’s time for an entrepreneurial designer of women’s clothing to start designing attractive, easy-care, soft knit separates (and also nightgowns) that women in their 80s and 90s can actually manage to put on and take off without going through painful contortions.
How about
— jersey knit blouses with snaps in the front and sleeves that are loose and at least 3/4
— pull-on knit pants that don’t bag at the knees and with elastic waists that are adjustable
— soft, knit nightgowns and robes that snap down the front
I’ve finally gotten my mother to wear pants instead of dresses. which she — still attached to the styles of the 50s — prefers. So now, she doesn’t have to worry about pantyhose or shoes that look good with dresses (and she does worry about that).
Of, right. Shoes. Don’t get me going of finding comfortable soft leather shoes with flexible soles that also provide support!

8 thoughts on “clothes for the very old

  1. What a revolutionary idea: clothes that fit not just our bodies, but also our failings. I have ways to go to reach your mother’s age, but with flare-ups of my condition, I found myself barely able to use my thumbs the other days, which made dealing with hooks and buttons and ordeal … so I hear you!

  2. My mother has the same needs. At Sears, I’ve found snap-front knit jackets in pretty solid colors and pull-up knit pants, all with pockets. They’re fairly inexpensive too. My mother has also done well with the elastic knit pants from Land’s End. She is quick to tell me about too-tight elastic, and she has been happy with these pants. They’re not cheap, but they are well-made and don’t sag.

  3. I’ve gotten pants from my mother from Lands End as well. I still had to make the waistline looser. She hates anything tight around her waist

    Do you know what brand those clothes from Sears are? She doesn’t really need any jackets. What she needs are knit shirts with snaps. I think she’s OK for now with clothes. We’ll see when winter comes.

  4. I’m going to Sears this week. I will check on the brand. The “jacket” could be used as a top over pants, although they’re a little warm for summer (except here in N. Calif, the land of cold summers).

  5. I’ve tried to get my mother to wear the kind of blouse to which you link. She doesn’t like that kind of fabric; she doesn’t like collars that come too high on the neck because she has a short neck. She doesn’t like gromets or other kinds of decorations. She doesn’t like anything the least bit fitted because she finds it too constraining. She doesn’t like tight armholes (again, too constraining). She’s a tough person to buy clothes for because of her dislikes. And her pants have to have pockets and not be too wide and not be too heavy. She’s going to live with what she has for now because I’m tired of unsuccessfully trying to please her.

  6. Sounds like we’re in the same leaky boat, except my mother doesn’t live with me. She wants her clothes to be EXACTLY like her favorites of what she already has!

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