Slippery sleeves

I was walking home from the swimming pool today when I came across an
elderly gentleman having problems with his wife. He had parked in an
awkward spot and she lost her footing trying to get out of the car. He
was trying to help her up, but she couldn't straighten her legs - she
walked with a cane/walker and had virtually no leg strength.
I went over and assisted, trying to lift her up. However, her woollen
coat was lined with slippery material and I could not get a good grip.
Due to the position of the car door - blocked as it was by something on
the sidewalk frozen in the snow/ice - I could barely get a hold. The
three of us were crowded in the space afforded by a half-opened car
door. She was too frail to just grab by the arm and lift, so I had to
make sure I had her securely under the armpit - I was afraid I'd break
her arm if I held her any other way and leveraged her weight (she was
not petite).
Two other gents came and between the four of us, we were able to move
her to a clear spot on the sidewalk - I had so much trouble with her
coat that I had quickly pulled the sleeve off her arm so I could hold
her without it slipping around. She then collapsed and we had to get
medical help. I stayed and supported her head as we waited for
assistance and wrapped her coat over her.
Now my mother is similar, though a bit stronger than this woman. She
also uses a walker and needs assistance in/out of cars. However, she
doesn't wear such a coat. My brother is often around to help her and he
could lift her singlehandedly. But it did get me thinking - for someone
with frequent need for support, a coat with such a slippery liner seems
like a bad idea. It makes it easier to put the coat on or take it off,
but I think that support is more critical.
Would you, as sewists, take something like this in consideration if you
were making a coat for such a person? Do you think I'm out of line
suggesting that clothing that allows better grip for a caregiver should
be considered more important than some arbitrary fashion?
Reply to
Michael Daly
Mike, You are so right. The problem is that manufacturers don't take these things into consideration and that's where most coats come from, not someones sewing home sewing machine. I must commend you on your willingness to assist the woman. To many people will just walk by not wanting to get involved either because they just don't understand the problem at hand or even worse don't care or are afraid that if an injury occurs they may be sued. Juno
Reply to
Yes, I'd consider you somewhat out of line, but thank you for your thoughts. You're correct, though, that a grip on an arm is probably not the best way to lift someone who is frail and elderly.
There's a fair chance that someone that frail would be unable to get a coat on without a slippery lining, assisted or not. The reason for slippery linings is to 1) make the coat easier to get on and off, and 2) to keep it from "grabbing" the fabric of the clothing underneath, possibly causing loss of balance as the coat "grabs" during walking. Not difficult for a person of ordinary strength to deal with, but it takes very little to undo the balance of someone who is a bad walker.
Reply to
Kay Lancaster
Kay, It's true that someone who is frail may fall if that person tries to put a coat on without a slippery lining,however, I should think that their are more people in that condition who are being assisted with putting on a coat than not. If you are that frail, as Michael seemed to think this woman was, it's unlikely that the person would be going out alone. Some one is probably assisting him/her in dressing. I'm not in the least bit frail and yet when I injured my shoulder I could not put my coat on without assistance. I just didn't have that kind of mobility. As far as gripping someone by the arm to assist, it is never the best way to help. You should always grip under the arm and up to the shoulder if possible. It will save your back. The other thing is that many coats with a zip lining only have slippery material in the arm not in the body of the coat so there is still the possibility of the coat grabbing when walking. I just checked my closet and found that every coat in there (6)was made in just that fashion. Juno
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In this case, if I put my arm under her armpit, her arm lifted up and the coat slid off. I had to hold her arm down while lifting. If her husband had been willing to let me lift her alone (he seemed terrified at the thought of letting her go) I could have put one arm under each of her armpits, but I could only work from one side while he held the other.
I considered wrapping my arms around her lower rib cage, but the coat was so slippery that it wouldn't have stayed put.
As it was, she spent so much time with her arms up supporting her weight that I was concerned with positional asphyxia. That may have contributed to her subsequent collapse.
The extreme difficulty in finding a way to support the woman because of the coat lead me to post this here. As I said, my mother manages without such a slippery coat and mom's far from flexible or agile (almost 80 with arthritis). Her sweaters are similarly not slippery and she manages with those.
Reply to
Michael Daly
Let's face Mike, you were in a no win situation. I still commend you for your wiliness to assist. I personally think there is no reason to explain yourself. You commented on what was a very diidfficult problem and what you saw as a problem and possible solution. I don't see where you were out of line. Juno
Reply to
Agreed. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what we conclude about coats and linings, because people will wear what they will wear, and in the case of an older person, it's likely to be what they have and are comfortable with. Paramedics can regale you with tales of wrestling with difficult clothing and situations. Had the driver simply stopped in a place where there was adequate access, none of this would have been necessary. There is a reason why handicapped parking spaces are so wide. You were simply being a "good Samaritan" and in many states, you are protected by law. We carry an umbrella liability policy - cheap, but worthwhile.
Reply to
At the schools where I work there are kids with physical disabilities who may need to be lifted or supported by their assistants on a regular basis. They wear belts, harnesses, or in one case a vest, all designed to allow a caregiver to grip and support them safely and comfortably.
Unless you come to a sewist and specifically request a garment for such a purpose, yes indeed, it's out of line to expect "clothing that allows better grip for a caregiver".
Reply to
The various munchkins I've had to babysit over the years have all had clothes that would allow this to some degree. I've broken up three-year-olds' spats by just lifting one or both by the top of their jeans.
Moms no longer have to stuff hyperkinetic arms and legs into tubes of fabric - the littlest ones have clothes that open and close like a clamshell.
Maybe "out of line" means something different in your part of the world but I find that somewhat insulting. Nonetheless, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and suggest the following:
Maybe we should rethink what such people wear. If the problem for an elderly or disabled person is getting an arm into a sleeve, rather than making the sleeve slipperier than Teflon, we should look at different designs. The clamshell approach to infants and toddlers clothes is an example. While the appearance of such kids' clothes leaves something to be desired, I'm sure many clothes designers could come up with something that looks more fashionable. Seams that hide a closure would allow someone to put their arm into a sleeve and then close the sleeve in front instead of reaching behind to put the arm into the sleeve.
Putting a reinforcement into a coat - a hidden strap(s) with closures that ensures a coat remains closed under stress would allow one to lift a person more easily. This would have to be designed for easy removal nonetheless. These kinds of things exist in various sport and work environments - for example, you can lift a person by their life jacket if it's properly designed and fitted.
We consider things like Depends or handholds in washrooms to be acceptable today. There are loads of gadgets for kitchens or other activities that enable elderly or infirm persons to continue to do things. Why not take the same approach to other things like everyday clothes? Mainstream manufacturers should take the lead. These things have to be designed so that they don't look ridiculous. In sports, function becomes the fashion, but that wouldn't work in everyday clothes for others.
Reply to
Michael Daly
Works fine with somebody who weighs thirty pounds and whose bones aren't made of chalk and spun glass.
Do you know what happens when you have to catch a falling adult by clothing that "closes like a clamshell"? Unless it's designed specifically for that purpose, chances are it will pop, rip or tear open, possibly dumping the wearer onto the ground.
You conveniently edited out the "Unless you come to a sewist and specifically request a garment for such a purpose"
Nonetheless, I'll give you the
There are already catalogs full of clothing designed for people with various disabilities and impairments. Google is your friend.
Riiiight. They're going to get right on that. Mainstream manufacturers won't supply a pair of women's jeans with anything longer than a 34" inseam, but they're going to get right on board with designing old people clothes with built-in towing capacity.
These things
Sorry but this is totally a specialty niche item. And IMO it's being filled quite competently by catalogs and custom sewists.
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