What is the Most Suitable Clothing for Your Relative in a Nursing Home?

What is the Most Suitable Clothing for Your Relative in a Nursing Home?

Once the arrangements are made, and plans are underway to move your relative in to a nursing home, your mind can turn to packing. One of the most frequent questions we get at this stage is ‘what are the most suitable clothes for elderly in nursing homes?’ It’s not a question you’ve likely thought about before, so what are the problems, and how are clothing choices affected?

The Needs of Care

If your relative is moving to a nursing home this will mean they need some specialised nursing care to help them with the tasks of daily living. The precise nature of their needs will vary from person to person. However, there are some common issues:

  • Help with dressing: If your family member needs assistance with dressing then clothes with easy fastenings, and complete opening are appropriate. Buttoned shirts and blouses, and button front dresses are good examples.
  • Delicate skin: Many elderly residents have thin or fragile skin which is a normal part of aging. However, it can mean that elasticated socks, for example, are too constricting and can cause damage.
  • Help with toileting: Elderly residents in care homes may have additional needs, or require assistance, when toileting. Clothing should be as easy to undo as possible to allow for speed, but also serve to ensure your loved one’s dignity as much as possible. Fiddly fastenings, such as buckles, can cause distress and unnecessary accidents.
  • Incontinence: If incontinence is an issue then you will need to ensure that your relative has plenty of sets of underwear and nightwear to allow for changes as needed.
  • A word on shoes: Many elderly nursing home residents find shoes particularly tricky. Steer clear of lace-up shoes which at best pose a trip hazard, and instead choose slip-ons, elasticated shoes, or Velcro fastenings.


Comfort should be a primary consideration when choosing clothes for elderly in nursing home. Residents have limited mobility, and may be unsteady on their feet. Their clothes should be suitable for sitting for extended periods of time, and not pose trip hazards. Stretchy fabrics are ideal, in soft materials which are largely natural.

We also suggest, for comfort, that you plan clothing in terms of layers which are easy to put on and take off. Generally, care homes are warm environments, but elderly individuals with restricted mobility may feel the cold more easily. Therefore, ensure vests are packed alongside comfortable warmer layers such as cardigans.

Practicalities of Care Home Living

Furthermore, care homes need to be able to cycle clothes through a more intensive washing process than in domestic environments. Clothes need to be machine-washable, and preferably non-iron. They should also be plentiful enough to allow for both choice and ample turn-around time. However, they should also fit within the wardrobes and drawers available. If in doubt, ask the nursing care home exactly what storage furniture your loved one will have.

We highly recommend labelling all items of clothing. This ensures that items are returned quickly and easily, and the washing process is more reliable.

In addition, residents should have a bathrobe and slippers. Ensuring dignity in the tasks of daily living is essential to our ethos. Many residents need to take breaks during the tasks of bathing and dressing. A bathrobe makes this possible.

The Needs of the Individual

Just because your relative needs help with the tasks of daily living does not mean they have to sacrifice their sense of individuality and style. In fact, for the mental wellbeing of an individual in a care home, it is essential that they do still feel ‘themselves’ as much as possible, and retain some ability to make their own choices.

Therefore, whilst clothing should be practical and plentiful, it should also reflect the individual. Favourite colours, patterns, and style can all be considered as you compile their wardrobe.

It’s Not a One-Off Task!

Unfortunately, ensuring your elderly relative has all of the clothes they need for life in a nursing home is rarely a completed task. Whilst the task should never take as long as the first packing, you will need to update their wardrobe from time to time, much like you do for yourself. Elderly individuals typically lose weight with aging, and needs change over time. However, a good nursing home should seek to communicate with you regularly about your loved one’s needs, including their clothes!

Where to Shop

If this all sounds like a tricky set of criteria, that’s understandable. The good news is that there are many retailers catering for clothing for the elderly and care home individuals. You may like to start your shopping expedition at one of a number of specialist online retailers such as: Clouds Clothing; Rival Clothing; the Classic Clothing Shop; and, Jeff’s Clothes Show. If you’re at all in doubt about the clothes for elderly in nursing homes need,  then please give us a call on 01769 573166.