Tips for Dressing When You Have Arthritis

It's not unusual for people with arthritis to have difficulty dressing, especially if their finger joints, wrists, or shoulders are affected. Your main goal should be to make everything as simple as possible.

Get Out of Drawers

  • Make sure that your dresser drawers are oiled and easy to open and close. If the drawers have small pulls, replace them with larger handles that are easier to grasp. You can also use your forearm or lean with your body weight to close dresser drawers. This works well for closing any drawers and also with doors.
  • Keep everyday "musts," such as socks and underwear, in the easiest-to-reach drawers, so that you don't have to bend or struggle to get to them.

Slip into Something Comfortable

  • Replace buttons with Velcro if possible. Also replace shoelaces, belts, zippers, and bra hooks with Velcro.
  • Replace button cuffs with elastic at the end of sleeves.
  • Wear loose clothing that is easy to get in and out of. Avoid turtlenecks and items that need to be zipped or buttoned in the back.
  • If you use neckties, ask your spouse, partner, or friend to pretie them for you. This way, you can just slip them on and tighten the knot.

Try Gadgets

There are many devices available that help with these tasks; see an occupational therapist for suggestions.


  • A long-handled shoehorn can make putting on shoes less of a chore.
  • Socks are easier to pull on with gadgets that snap onto the sides to help you pull them up.
  • Buy a valet stand that can hold your shirt or blouse while you put your arm through the sleeve.



Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Are arthritis medications for me?
  • What kind of healthcare professionals do I need for arthritis?
  • What side effects of arthritis medication should I watch for?
  • Arthritis Physical Exam: What is my doctor looking for?
  • Am I at risk for osteoarthritis?
  • How much should I exercise to help my osteoarthritis?
  • What do I need to know about alternative and complementary arthritis therapies?
  • Does stress affect my arthritis?
  • What causes arthritis symptoms?
  • What does arthritis feel like?