Dressing Tips for Stroke Survivors

Updated:Mar 6,2015

Excerpted from "Managing Your New Life: Tips and Timesavers for Survivors", Stroke Connection November/December 2003 (Last science update March 2013)

Getting Dressed

  • To survivors: The general rule is to use your unaffected arm to dress the affected side first. To undress, take the garment off the unaffected side, then remove it from the affected side.
  • To caregivers: When you are helping someone dress, always tell them what you are doing first so you don’t startle them.
  • Return to your normal daily dressing routines as soon as you can.
  • Loose-fitting clothes and silky fabrics are easier to slip in and out of than polyester or flannel.
  • Lay out your clothes before dressing.
  • Dress while sitting. It is easiest.
  • When dressing, use your strong arm to dress your weak side first.
  • When undressing, pull your strong arm or leg out of your clothes first.

Shirts and Jackets

  • Coats and jackets lined with slippery fabrics like satin, silk or nylon are easier to put on than unlined garments.
  • Knit fabrics wrinkle less than woven fabrics, so they require little or no ironing.
  • Practice buttoning and unbuttoning, with the shirt on your lap.
  • Put your affected arm in the sleeve first.
  • Start buttoning a shirt from the bottom.
  • Button the sleeve for your strong arm before you put the shirt on. To unbutton that sleeve, grab the corner of the buttonhole with your teeth and maneuver it until the button slips out.

Socks and Shoes

  • It's easiest to put on socks and shoes if you sit and put your foot on a footstool (or box).
  • To avoid confusion, write an "R" inside the right shoe, and an "L" in the left shoe.
  • Buy slip-on shoes.
  • A shoe repair store can insert Velcro closures in place of shoelaces.

Nylon Stockings

  • While sitting, cross your affected leg over your strong leg. With your strong hand, gather up the stocking and pull it over your toes and foot. Then uncross your legs and pull the stocking up to the knee.
  • Put on your second stocking the same way.
  • Stand to pull both stockings all the way up.

Belts and Suspenders

  • Thread the belt through the loops before putting on pants or a skirt.
  • Attach suspenders to trousers before putting them on.

Jewelry and Wristwatches

  • Wear bracelets that can be slipped onto your arm.
  • Clip-on earrings are easier than post earrings. If you have pierced ears, try the wire-style earrings that just slip in. (Many pierced-ear earrings can be converted to wire earrings. See your jeweler.)
  • Put a watch on the wrist of your affected arm using your strong hand. For ease, wear a watch with a stretch band in a slightly larger size than you normally wear.

Adapting Clothing
The following features make clothes easier to put on and take off:

  • Rings or strings added to zipper pulls.
  • Velcro in place of buttons and shoelaces. (Remember to close the Velcro tabs before washing the clothing. This prevents lint from collecting on the tabs.)
  • Elastic waistbands.
  • Snaps and grippers.
  • Button hooks.
  • Clip-on ties.
  • Pullover or front-closure brassieres.

Additional tips for daily activities:

Shelley Peterman Schwarz, Dressings Tips and Clothing Resources for Making Life Easier, Attainment Company, ©2000

This content was last reviewed on 03/18/2013.