Innovations in adaptive utensils are making a huge difference in seniors’ lives.
Do you have a loved one who’s dealing with shaking and tremors? If the answer is yes, then you know how difficult the activities of daily living can be for them. Adaptive utensils for seniors are a major player in changing that.
One of the hardest things for an older adult to deal with is loss of independence. For seniors dealing with stroke, Parkinson’s, arthritis and dementia, the hand tremors and shaking that come along with the condition rob them of the ability to do things for themselves. Whether it’s eating, writing, brushing their hair and teeth or even drinking a cup of coffee, everything becomes a hassle – to the point where some older adults lose the desire to even try.
Adaptive utensils for seniors can return your loved one’s sense of independence.
Broadly speaking, adaptive utensils can be divided up into 3 categories: weighted/large grip cutlery, adaptive tableware and adjustable build-up handles. Just one thing before we start: We are not endorsing any of the products mentioned here. All links are for informational purposes only, so don’t assume that because you see it here it’s the best on the market.
Now let’s take a look.
1. Weighted cutlery for seniors
You might never have noticed, but it takes a lot of control to use the typical fork, spoon or knife. Try it: Take a spoon out of your flatware drawer and hold it. Now make your hand shake. Do you see how hard it is to control that spoon and keep it from flying out of your hand?
Now take something with a larger handle that weighs more – like a big makeup brush. Hold it the same way you held the spoon and make your hand shake again.
Easier, wasn’t it?
That’s how weighted cutlery works: thicker, weighted handles are easier to control.
Of course, a lot of scientific study goes into these weighted products. Some are easier to grip even if they aren’t weighted, like this Good Grips set from OXO. Each piece features a non-slip, built-up handle with a special mechanism that can be twisted to any angle, so both left-handed and right-handed people can use it. The knife is a rocker knife to make one-handed cutting easier.
For some seniors, that thicker non-slip handle is just perfect, and they don’t need the extra weight. If your love done does, though, then check out products like these weighted adaptive utensils from BunMo. Besides being weighted, they also feature a non-slip grip and they come with an attractive carrying case – no need to worry about how to manage with your loved one’s cutlery when you’re going out to eat or where to store them in their assisted living facility.
Again, these products are just examples; there are a lot of options out there within a really wide price range. Consult with whoever knows your loved one’s needs best – be it their primary care physician, their rehab specialist or anyone else who works with them on an everyday basis.
2. Adaptive tableware for seniors
Often, it’s not just the cutlery that’s an issue at mealtimes. Standard plates, bowls and cups can also make eating independently difficult for a loved one with shaking and tremors.
Again, think about it. Look at your standard soup bowl. What do you do when there’s just a little soup left? You scoop it out. Sometimes, you need to tilt the bowl to do that, too.
Now try that with shaking hands.
Here’s where adaptive tableware comes in.
Specially constructed plates and bowls like this one usually feature a “high-low” design so that there’s no need to tip the bowl in order to get to food that tends to move around, like soup, rice and peas. Many have non-skid bases, too.
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s, you might want to consider color when you choose adaptive tableware. Red plates and bowls stimulate appetite in people who suffer from dementia, according to a number of studies. The contrast also makes it easier for them to see their food.
3. How build-up handles work
By now you might be wondering: Adaptive utensils and tableware are great for seniors during mealtimes, but what about all the other things my loved one needs to do?
Good question. The answer is build-up handles.
Build-up handles – sometimes called foam grips 0r medical foam padding – are foam tubes that can be cut to different lengths and slipped on to everyday items like pens, markers, razors and hairbrushes, to name a few. They usually come color-coded, like these; each color has a different size hole in the middle to accommodate handles of varying thickness. These foam grips don’t add much weight; they do, however, add bulk to handles and provide a non-slip grip.
How to know which adaptive utensils are the best for your loved one? Well, like we said before, you need to consult the specialists who work with them. But don’t forget to check in with the most important person: Your loved one.
They’re the ones who are going to be using them, after all.