Living with Multiple Sclerosis
Living with Multiple Sclerosis
On the list of concerns that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) face, choosing the right outfit may not always rank near the top. After all, fashion may seem frivolous when you’re dealing with symptoms like fatigue and impaired balance. For many people with MS..... what to wear simply isn’t a topic of thought or discussion.
But thoughtful clothing choices can make your life easier when you have MS. For some people, this means focusing mostly on comfort and clothing that doesn’t hinder your mobility. For others, it also means taking your outward appearance into account, since how you look can have an impact on how you feel — especially if you’re going to work or attending events in your community — but sometimes even if you’re just doing errands.
Here are some tips from people with MS about choosing clothing that fits your lifestyle, body, and personality.
- You will stay cooler if you wear white clothing when out in the sun. White reflects the sun's rays, whereas dark colors absorb them.
- If light-colored clothing alone does not keep you cool enough, a variety of cooling vests, hats, neck bands, chair cushions, and products are available to help keep you cool. Some are filled with polymer beads that absorb water and cool you through evaporation, others utilize ice packs and cooling tubes.
- Clothing made of 100 percent cotton will shrink and need ironing to look fresh and crisp. Cotton blends with less than 50 percent cotton, on the other hand, need little or no ironing. Garments made of permanent press fabric require no ironing or special treatment.
- Knit fabrics are easier to get on and off than woven fabrics. In addition, knit fabrics are more comfortable to sit in and do not wrinkle as much as woven fabrics. Double-knit sweatpants with an elasticized waistband are particularly easy to wear and maintain. Purchase wool sweaters or jackets lined with a satiny fabric. If you have unlined slacks, purchase nylon pant liners to wear underneath. Some fabrics are actually "heavy", meaning they have weight. Clothing made of this type of fabric may tire you out just putting it on.
- If you sit a great deal, purchase garments one size larger than you normally wear. The clothing will be more comfortable to sit in and easier to put on and remove. Clothing that is too tight may make you feel tired.
- If you're in a wheelchair, you may have trouble finding jeans that fit comfortably. There are jeans available that are comfortable and attractive. The front looks like traditional jeans, while the back is elastic with added fabric in the seat for comfort. Leg pockets with easy seated access are optional.
- If getting dressed in the morning sometimes feels overwhelming, try limiting your wardrobe to see if having fewer choices makes the process easier.
- Long sleeves must be on the shorter side of normal, because if you use a cane or walker, it’s hard to grab it when your sleeves are getting in the way. The tighter cuffs on button-down shirts usually keep shirtsleeves out of the way, but the looser sleeves on items like fleece jackets and suit jackets can be problematic.
To help determine whether a garment will fit without trying it on, do one of the following:
- When you go shopping, take along a garment that fits you well. Match the side seams and length by laying one item on top of another.
- Take your measurements at home and record them on a piece of paper that you take with you to the store.
- Ask the clerk to measure the garment you have selected to see if it will work with your measurements.
- Another alternative is to shop where maternity clothes are sold. The garments are generously sized and fashionable.
We are all part of the human picture, and ranking our conditions or emotions based on what is happening to other people in the world is not useful. Strive to look within yourself to find the happiness there and that includes wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident.
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