Conditions such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s can make it hard to perform seemingly basic daily tasks, like eating. It’s something you don’t think about as an able-bodied person, but when the tremors kick in, your hands don’t work as they used to and pain makes it difficult to move your fingers.
You could ask someone else to feed you and you could opt for simpler foods and a mostly liquid diet, but there’s no need. With adaptive utensils, you can eat what you want and when you want, and you’ll have control over every spoonful.
What are Adaptive Utensils?
An adaptive utensil is one that has been specially designed to meet the needs of someone with tremors, dexterity problems, and other issues. They contain features that help with a host of problems, including:
- Weighted Handles: Extra weight is added to the handles to help offset the effects of tremors. It aids with something known as proprioceptive feedback, loosely defined as the body’s awareness of its own position in space. These handles have a major impact on tremors in patients with Parkinson’s Disease.
- Easy Non-Slip Grip: A larger handle that is easy to hold, especially for patients with arthritis, and features a non-slip material.
- Rocker Knives: Uniquely shaped knives that allow for easier cutting for people who suffer from dexterity issues and have a weak grip.
- Bendable Utensils: These utensils can bend in several ways and require less wrist activity when moving from the plate to the mouth.
What to Consider When Buying Adaptative Utensils
To make sure you buy the right utensil for you or a loved one, look for the following features:
- Suitability: Adaptive utensils are not one-size-fits-all. As noted above, they have multiple different features, and these are specifically tailored to individuals with unique problems and requirements. Check the features and get utensils that are suitable.
- Quality: Different materials and construction methods are used to make these utensils and, as a result, the quality can vary substantially. Don’t just grab the first one that you find and don’t look for the cheapest either. Buy cheap, buy twice, as the saying goes. You want something that will last and serve its purpose.
- Weight and Size: The weight and size can help to combat issues such as tremors, but the product also needs to fit in the user’s hand and feel “right.” It shouldn’t be too heavy or too big; they need to be able to get their hands around it and hold it securely.
- Easy to Wash: How easy are the utensils to use? Can you wash them in the dishwasher, or do you need to clean them in a specific way to avoid breaking them or damaging the mechanisms?
The Best Adaptive Utensils on the Market Right Now
After taking the above features into consideration, we have created a list of the best adaptive utensils out there right now. To make things easier, we have chosen utensils that are available at Amazon.com, and have also factored price and value into the equation.
BUNMO Adaptive Utensils (Set of 4)
This BUNMO set of adaptive utensils is one of the best-selling in the Amazon store, and not without reason. It’s available for between $15 and $20 and includes a tablespoon, a teaspoon, a knife, and a fork. The utensils are jumbo-sized and feature large, easy-grip, weighted handles.
They also feature rust-resistant stainless steel and the knife is a uniquely designed rocker knife, which allows for easier cutting. The cutlery set even comes with its own cloth travel pouch, so you can carry it around with you as you visit friends and dine in restaurants.
Special Supplies Store Adaptive Utensils
A strong and sturdy set of utensils, including a teaspoon, tablespoon, fork, and knife. The handles are thick and heavy, and everything is made from stainless steel. All utensils are dishwasher safe and the wide and heavy grip means they can be used for users with various health conditions.
Sammons Preston Universal Holder Strap
A simple strap that fits around the hand and can hold cutlery, pens, make-up tools, and more. It fits hands of all sizes and utilizes a comfortable foam padding that is suitable for long-term use. The Velcro strap makes it easy to wear and remove and it’s available for less than $20.
Vive Foam Tubing (Pack of 9)
Vive is one of the biggest names in the mobility sector and they’ve created numerous products to make your life and the life of your loved one easier. This product contains 9 foam tubes that can be added to cutlery, pens, toothbrushes, make-up brushes, razors, and anything else that has a thin and light grip.
The rollers expand the size and weight of the handle and make it easier to grip and hold. They are dishwasher safe and do not absorb smells from the food and other items they come into contact with. If they’re not the right size, you can cut them to suit your needs.
The Benefits of Adaptative Utensils
It’s incredibly important for someone to maintain their independence for as long as possible. If you see someone struggling to perform a basic task, your first reaction is to help them, but if that person has been struggling with that task every day for many weeks or months, they might not want your help.
What they want is to perform those activities themselves, and to feel the sense of pride and confidence that comes from overcoming adversity, no matter how small and insignificant it might seem to someone else.
Eating is a great example of this. It’s something that everyone does, and something that most people take for granted. At the same time, if you have arthritis, Parkinson’s, and general problems with dexterity and tremors, it becomes a chore. You still want to perform these duties yourself, but it’s no longer easy to hold standard utensils, and the pain, mess, and problems that result can be discouraging.
As a caregiver, it’s important not to see adaptive utensils as something designed purely to make your life easier. Their goal is to give the user some control over their life, something they may have lost and desperately want to regain.
Research has shown that the longer someone maintains their independence, the longer their life expectancy will be. It seems absurd to suggest that an adapted fork could have that effect, but it’s much more than that.
You can never underestimate the psychological benefits that a little independence can bring.