As my mom's left arm weakened to the point of immobility, she was unable to dress herself. Unfortunately her husband, her primary caregiver, has Essential Tremors, and therefore had a lot of difficulty with snaps, buttons, zippers... He is also pretty oblivious about comfort and fitting (He once fastened my mother's bra so that the bottom band crossed directly over her breasts. Unfortunately since she cannot speak, and has less sensitivity on affected parts of her body, when I came by in the afternoon, it had been like that all day! Ouch!)
|Back opening dress|
|Tulip shirt front|
|Tulip shirt back|
Suddenly we needed "open bottom" pants for my mom.
As she became less able to support her own weight, we quickly discovered that she needed a lift (including a lift in her spirits!). The problem with lifts is that they lift you out of the wheelchair in a sling and then lower you onto the potty - which is great, except when/how do you lower your pants?! The sling has a circular opening where your bottom "hangs out." A quick bout of research (found an awesome site called Silvert's with some "open bottom options") and we quickly discovered this meant you had to go "commando" so your clothes had to discreetly cover you everywhere, except your bottom.
That left mom with 2 options.
One, the tulip backed dress with a cut out for the bottom. The person looks fully clothed when you're looking down from above. The sides of the skirt are tucked under the person's legs and the back of the dress goes to the chair seat and stops. We still had to add access to the PEG tube for feeding (see this post for details).
this video which showed me how they worked, I thought we were in business! She tried out the pants for a couple of days, before I made more, and I'm so glad we waited.
|Step one, while still in seated |
position pull pants up over legs.
|Secure adjustable waistband.|
"Flap" will cover hips, but
bottom is exposed when in
The worst part? To secure the snaps in the back - already difficult for someone with Essential Tremors, Mom had to lean forward in her chair - which inhibited her breathing. Not wheelchair friendly at all!
|Shifted to side closure instead of center back.|
So I opened up the left side of the back "flap" and added some velcro strips (could use a separating zipper as well). That way the flap could be slipped behind the person and then secured on the side (much easier than trying to secure it behind their back).
This worked much better so I altered a pair of her loose fitting (she's lost about 70lbs on her liquid diet), elastic waistband, knit shorts. Instead of velcro, I used magnetic purse snaps (my new favorite closure!). It's pretty easy to alter the shorts (although it helped to have matching color fabric for the new flaps needed for the side closure), but I've also drafted a pattern so I can make new ones in any colors I wish.
I can add more details if anyone is interested in doing any of these projects themselves.