Monday, April 10, 2006

Caregiving: shopping therapy?

     Shopping on Saturday we both were intrigued by the pictured mannequin in a wheelchair, so I’ll give KOHL’S a plug. I have no idea what percentage of shoppers are in wheelchairs but obviously we will be back. Somebody in KOHL'S marketing department is thinking.    

     Shopping for opposite sex clothing is probably a caregiver necessity for many. Accompanying the opposite sex on such outings once was comparable to enduring fingernails on chalk boards. However through two decades of caregiving and parenting, I have had to increasingly shop 'with' and then 'for' Patti. While parenting our daughter has dragged me through the clothing and fashions of a cute little girl to a teenager. It’s been a fast track of evolution from male Neanderthal mentality.

     Shopping for clothing is also an excellent outing for Patti. Public interaction is minimized while still being in public. Believe me NO salesperson ever bothers with a person in a wheelchair. <grin> Patti can see, touch, and feel everything close up. She is at eye level with “SALE” signs and enjoys going through racks. She rarely tires shopping; after all she has a chair. <grin>

     Decision making brings multiple mental processes into use. Patti is challenged creatively and with real life to consider color combinations, seasons of the year, price, style, and other factors that are both simple and complex. Shopping as therapy – now there would be a medical revolution. <grin>  

    We have to add another filter level because Patti cannot dress herself. Stretchable waists, larger sizes, minimal buttons, etc. become important. Care instructions are critical, no dry cleaning, no hand wash, no special dry, etc. If it can’t be tossed in a washer and dryer it is of no use.        

     Trying on is obviously impossible, but that can always be done later and exchanged. I even carry my own tape measure <grin> to minimize exchanges.

    Checking out the mannequin from our perspective it was interesting to note the pants legs. The decorator consciously used over sized long pants on the mannequin which were bunched and tucked in the back of the waist, the handiwork was creatively concealed by the short jacket. In real life pants ride up several inches when you spend all day in a wheel chair. Patti needs to buy “long” length even though she is only 5’ 4” because she dresses for sitting not standing. It was interesting to see that a store fashion decorator encountering the same problem resolved it much the same way. Otherwise a person sitting in a wheelchair always looks like their pants are too short.

     The confused look on Patti’s face always happens when I point my cell phone at her to take a picture. <grin> I don’t think it has anything to do with MS. Camera phones boggle many people.


  1. of course my situation is different, I am wheelchair bound but with a stroke, I opt for dresses, as pants are far too complicated to get on my body! LOL, my husband loves shopping, so is more than happy to have taken that job over, LOL , I always hated shopping , so was all too happy to give it up! Shopping for& with our daughter is hard for him, but he does well, it's writing the check that is painful.

  2. Again, you point out concerns and challenges that you deal with regularly and with good chair... I mean cheer... <grin> ... shopping as therapy. Yes, that's a grand idea. I know a little girl, age 11 in 5th grade, wheel-chair bound by cerebral palsy. She has no use of her left hand, but can raise that arm. She can use that hand, however, to hold her paper still while she writes with her other hand. I wondered last week if she ever gets to go shopping. I think not. She's getting heavy to lift, her mother does not have any of the latest technology. She's a single parent raising two other children, and has to lift her daughter in and out of the chair and into the car. Still, I wondered, how would I be able to take her anywhere? She needs a special toilet seat, and needs help getting on and off it. Her legs will not straighten at the knees. She cannot move her own body from chair to another position. She is completely dependent on others to get her in and out of the chair. So much of what other girls her age do she is missing. Her situation is bleak. I need to know who can help her in the home. No one in the home seems able to follow through with the exercises the girl needs to loosen up her tight leg muscles.
    I don't know what to do anymore. Any suggestions, Patrick?

  3. too bad we don't have a Kohl's here or I would shop there and support their endeavors to cater to wheelchair shoppers. That's neat that they did.  I would imagine shopping with Patti would be a fun adventure. Hats of to you for giving her the independence to still make a choice on what she wears and to have the patience to do so. Thankfully your daughter is getting to that age where she probably welcomes clothes shopping with friends rather than the horror of her dad, LOL. I send my son with money when he wants to clothes shop and he knows if he brings something that doesn't meet our dress code, back to the store to exchange it he goes. So far he's been real good about that. Unfortunately, he has expensive tastes :)


  4. wow i did not know kohls did that, have a good week



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