How to Dress a Stroke Patient

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Getting dressed is an important part of everyone's daily routine. Dressing can help those who have suffered a stroke recover a sense of normalcy, boosting both mood and self-esteem. While learning to dress is empowering, patients may need the help of a caregiver in the early stages after suffering a stroke. These tips can help caregivers and their loved ones once again make dressing part of the daily routine.

General tips
Think about what clothes will be easiest for you to use when dressing a stroke patient. Consider loose clothing with wide neck openings and elastic waistbands. Clothes that need to be pulled over the patient's head, like t-shirts, sweaters, and nightgowns, may be difficult. Zippers are easier to use than buttons. Consider using clothes that zip up the front or make use of Velcro closures.

Give yourself and the patient plenty of time to get dressed
To stay organized, simplify the process, and make things run smoothly, first take a moment to lay clothes out in the order you will put them on your loved one. The clothes that you will put on first should go on the top of the pile.

When dressing a stroke patient, always dress the affected side first. The opposite is true when undressing, when you should take clothes off the unaffected side first.

If possible, have the patient sit up, as putting on clothes will be easier when he or she is seated than when lying down.

Stroke patients may have lost a lot of strength in their hands, particularly on their affected side. You may need to help your loved one pull pants on, or you can have him or her try doing it alone by putting hands deep in the front pockets, which allows the person to pull the pants up using arm strength rather than relying on weak fingers.

Shoes can be another tricky article of clothing to put on, especially if the stroke recoverer is trying to do it alone. You may want to get slip-on shoes with a gripping sole and a sturdy back, which can be a good alternative to lace-up shoes. You can also look into shoes with Velcro fasteners, or have existing shoes modified with Velcro straps, to make it easier for both you and your loved one to put them on.

There are a number of products that can simplify putting on shoes and socks. For example, try using sock stretchers, or larger socks. Some stroke patients may need to use a foot brace designed to help treat foot drop. If this is the case, put the brace into the shoe first. Help your loved one step into the long, narrow opening of the brace, called the trough, and slide the foot forward into the shoe.

For ease in dressing for both the caregiver and the patient, put belts on pants and skirts before putting that article of clothing on.