Warmth and Mobility: How to Stay Cozy During Cold Months

Winter safety is a focus for us in the November print issue and on the web page. I recently changed […]

winter snow shoveling

Winter safety is a focus for us in the November print issue and on the web page. I recently changed out clothing for the colder days with the forlorn hope that having sweaters and heavy coats out would magically bring us a few more warm days. I’m sorry that didn’t seem to work this time.

As my disabilities change, clothing that worked in the past doesn’t work as well now. Many of you have likely dealt with that, too.

We have to opt for warmth instead of fashion. Comfort comes before style.

We don mittens instead of gloves. A friend just gave up and started putting very thick socks on her hands. We have this rather bleak joke about sock puppets. But very heavy socks have been a godsend for her and her hands, which have limited movement. She sprayed the socks with a waterproofing spray and is happy with her makeshift solution.

Our winter boots go from stylish to utilitarian. Footwear is an issue for me as arthritis sets in and my feet shapeshift. I always buy winter footwear with the notion of layering in socks and adding boot liners but there may be fewer layers of socks this year.

Getting in and out of heavy coats reminds us of days dealing with toddlers and their winter wear, except that we’re the ones struggling to get dressed. Leggings and long underwear? Don’t get me started. But they are a big need on some days.

Tim Benjamin, our late executive director, was a quadriplegic. He had a very heavy cape that fit over his head and chair, and kept him warm. If we were meeting up outdoors, it was hard to miss him with that blue and white striped cape on.

Heavy capes can be a lifesaver on very cold days for those of us who use mobility devices and who struggle to get in and out of coat sleeves. Another friend had a cape made out of a very small down comforter, by having a head opening cut out and hemmed up. it was cheaper than the custom capes she’d looked at. She said it is warmer, too.

Those of us with sensitivities to cold or spinal cord injuries have to watch ourselves in this weather, especially in bitter cold. Disabilities may have left some of us with little to no sensation in hands and feet, and we must be very careful of bitter cold weather.

With the arthritis I live with, cold can bring incredible pain and further immobility. Frostbite can affect any of us in a matter of minutes.

There’s such a need for affordable, accessible and sturdy clothing that is adapted to our needs here in Disability Land. I applaud the many gains we have made in clothing. At age 65, I remember not being happy with clothes. I remember carefully cutting tags out of my shirts because having a tag rub against my neck was uncomfortable.

I’d love to see more adaptive clothing manufacturers advertising in our paper and on our website.

Speaking of advertising, Emily Kahnke is selling ads for us. Watch our November edition for a house ad introducing her. I think she’s great and I hope you think so, too.

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