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I have a dozen pairs of pants for mom that the NH won't use because they insist on open backed wheelchair pants. We have ordered 1 pair ($55) but they haven't arrived yet. Do I bite the bullet and order more, or is it possible to alter her now useless regular pants? I've searched online but haven't found anything helpful.

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Thanks for the update. I was wondering earlier today if you'd received the pants and how they were constructed.

It occurred to me that someone, somewhere, must be creating patterns for adaptive clothing, and that there might even be some by the major pattern manufacturers. That's a good excuse to spend some time at Jo Ann Fabrics thumbing through the pattern books.
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I'm updating this in case someone else finds it useful.

The pants we ordered have finally arrived and this is what I have discovered...
The opening in the back does not go all the way to the side seams, so this is what keeps the upper leg from gaping open at the sides. As I have observed how mom is being dressed I see that they aren't even bothering to close the pants in back, so I don't think adding fabric there would be necessary. So: open the back seam not quite to the crotch, cut a small U shaped opening no larger than her bum and finish the cut edges with bias tape. Removing the elastic at the waist and adding a closure is discretional.
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Hi cwillie,

It might be helpful to look at the photos in the Buck and Buck online catalog. They sell adaptive clothing, including side-zip soft pants, and back-flap pants. They seem less expensive than the price you mentioned, but could also give you ideas for converting her pants into a "flapped" style. It seems like you have to find a compromise between the NH requirements, the preferences of your mom, the actual physical requirements at this time, and ability to modify garments already owned. (The side-zip seems less extreme to me than the flaps, but the staff may prefer one thing over another).
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The issues you addressed are also the ones which made me wonder how to make these pants work well. It's hard to visualize.

What you might try is the DME stores; they might have a pair that you can see in person, or buy, then reverse engineer. That way you can see in person how the pants are configured. That kind of inability to see construction and details is one of the reasons I won't shop online for something that needs to be seen and examined. Books, maybe - there's not much variation, but clothes, no.

I think women tend toward slacks as they age; their legs get colder and dresses don't keep them warm...and as you write, it's not the same as when we had young legs.
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Thanks GA. I've been experimenting with a pair - well ruining actually, but they would have been heading to the dumpster anyway. I think I need to wait until the pair we ordered arrives so I can get a better idea how to proceed. I'm not sure how far the back of the leg should go, too high and they bunch up, too low and they don't cover the side of the leg. I would need extra fabric so the flaps would overlap as well.

I'm beginning to think I may as well resign myself to joining the 21st century and doing some online shopping.

As for switching to dresses or skirts, I can just picture mom wearing one with her now dingy white socks, sensible black shoes and pale skinny legs splayed wide apart....(shudder)
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CWillie, I've been thinking about this since reading your post yesterday and searching online to see how the open back pants are constructed.

I used to make all my own clothes except underwear and sweatsuits, although I didn't enjoy making a coat; it was complicated and tedious and hard to work with so much fabric when the lining was attached.

You could start with Veronica's suggestion to open the back seam, but the pants I saw online had "flaps" and closed like wrap-around skirts that were popular decades ago. You could do this: split open the center back seam and sew a "flap over" piece to either seam; these pieces would overlap and could be secured by Velcro strips attached vertically to each side that would overlap. Does this make sense?

What I haven't figured out is how the seam junctions of the leg portions are treated. I'm trying to visualize this - once the upper back of the slacks is opened, it seems that would leave the lower back and section that segues into the upper legs loose and not connected. The crotch seam would still be there but not attached to the back of the pants. So I'm wondering if the pant legs wouldn't slip down...???
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Well shaking my head in disbelief! I think the only answer is to open the back seam. It shouldn't take long with a seam ripper. Then just oversew the raw edges. The problem may be that they don't use diapers just the washable underpads. All three hospitals and the rehab I was in put them under everyone, incontinent or not so they want the rear end always exposed. But N/Hs insist on everyone getting dressed every day.
Cwillie you also had time to do all the rolling required and I assume Mom was co-operative which many people are not especially if it is uncomfortable to be rolled. So you already know your answer, alter Mom's old pants or buy more adapted ones. Maybe a wrap skirt put on backwards would also work?
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If I was caring for her I would be able to get her ordinary pants on without too much trouble, I even preferred using pull up style diapers vs the tabs because I couldn't get the d**ed things on straight. The other NH didn't use the lifts, they got mom to stand and transfer with 2 helpers, and they had no trouble dressing her the same way I did... roll left, roll right, done!
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Oo! Also, lightbulb, if you have a good old-fashioned dry cleaner or laundry in your town, they often do alterations and repairs - can't hurt to ask.
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Er... Is this standard practice in Canadian residential care, CW?

I don't want to sound uppity about it, but *really*? I didn't even know such garments existed.

And what happens to ladies who've never worn anything but skirts and dresses all their lives? Do they have to switch over to aprons, or something?

I can see the practicality, obviously. I just think it's a bit dam' high-handed of the NH to be that prescriptive about clothing. They're looking after residents, not inmates.

Mind you, they struggle to get round everybody's care as it is, I suppose. So it'd be absolutely pointless expecting them to take time for regular clothing.
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Thanks cdnreader, but I think a seamstress would probably cost more than the new pants.
I have a sewing machine, I even made a few items of clothing a hundred years ago or so (lol) but I just don't have the patience for any major projects anymore. I could just open the back seam and add a velcro waistband, but I'm not willing to fool around with it if it isn't going to suit their requirements. I was hoping somebody out there had actually tried this??
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Dear cwillie,

Have you tried consulting with tailor or seamstress? I would see if they could alter the pants. I know its very expensive to buy all new pants. I too hate to see thing go to waste.
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