Stroke presents a variety of difficulties in performing daily tasks, including dressing. The inability to remain steady while stepping into clothing, muscle weakness and the lack of ability to fasten buttons can be very frustrating for any stroke survivor.
As re-learning to dress after a stroke takes time, the survivor may need your help in the early stages. Luckily, certain techniques can make the dressing a stroke survivor easy, even if only one side of his body is working well. Here’s a caregiver’s guide to dressing a stroke survivor without any hassle:
Step 1: Understand his physical limitation
Start by dressing the survivor’s affected/weaker side first. While undressing, remove the unaffected side first. Have him sit on the bed while putting on each clothing item. This will reduce the chance of a fall if the stroke has left him with curled toes.
If the stroke survivor is advised to be on the bed after stroke, position the head of the bed up before dressing him. This will give his back muscles a chance to adjust to the upright position and gets his blood flowing.
Step 2: Go for adaptive clothing
To decrease embarrassing moments, get his favorite clothes altered and adaptive to his needs. Ask the tailor to use zippers that close in front or on the side or easy pull on clothes for weak arm muscles. For stroke survivor with paralysis in the arms, back snap dresses and tops are easy for you to assist putting on and taking off. Buy side-opening pants that feature either Velcro, side zippers, snaps or easy access back flaps.
Step 3: Give him some choice
Not every survivor is going to be happy to have help getting dressed. If you have a difficult patient, asking what he would like to wear will ease out some tension. This will offer the stroke survivor a sense of independence and choice. Provide a few options for outfits to choose from. Keep choices simple such as sweat suits or pant sets that pull on with elastic waists. But, before doing so, you may like to label their closet and drawers making it easy for them to find items.
Step 4: Engage with him
Keep telling the stroke survivor what is happening every step of the dressing, especially if the survivor has gotten dementia after stroke. It will keep him in the loop, build trust, and make him more comfortable.
Step 5: Instill confidence in him
At one point, the survivor may want to dress by himself. That can be done with a variety of equipment that are designed to assist with dressing tasks after stroke. You will still want him to get dressed under your supervision. Depending upon their stroke recovery, you may need to lay out his clothing in the order (in which he needs to put it). Get dressing aids that meet his needs and handing him one item at a time is important.
Ask the survivor a grabber or Reacher to assist with putting on pants on. Give him a button hook or dressing stick if limited shoulder and hand movement is evident. He can use zipper pulls for jackets. To put socks and shoes on, he can use a sock aid and long-handled shoehorn.
This Blog is contributed by Dr. Deepak Kr. Nain. He is a certified therapist who specializes in the field of rehabilitation. Deepak possesses a clinical expertise in prescribing the best solutions to help people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).