Elderly patients are unable to eat like healthy people, and this is where eating aids come. Feeding and eating aids include scooper bowls, adult bibs and clothing protectors, food bumpers, plate guards, weighted cutlery, adapted silverware, tableware, cups, mugs, and more. Such dining aids can help make caring for elderly patients or handicapped a lot easier.
Feeding elderly patients can become a daunting task for caregivers as the disease progresses, and they lose their ability to feed themselves because the hand and eye coordination becomes impaired. But with the help of adapted eating essentials, elderly patients and disabled can feed themselves as much as possible without needing anyone’s assistance.
Here is the list of best eating essentials (categorized) for elderly patients that can help them eat their food with independence and ease:
1. Adapted Eating Utensils
Picking up a fork or spoon, and feeding yourself, or picking a knife to cut your steak then using a fork to lift the meat to your mouth is natural for healthy people but it can get challenging for elderly patients who are weak or disabled, to eat their meals. They may have certain physical limitations that can make eating at dinnertime much more complicated for them. Using special silverware can help in this case.
Adapted eating utensils are designed especially for people who are unable to feed themselves. Such utensils have larger silverware handles that are not just convenient to hold but also easier to grip. Added weight in their handles can help stabilize tremors and shaking for people who have Parkinson’s or suffered a stroke.
Here are different types of adapted eating utensils:
Angled Eating Utensils
Angled utensils are modified spoons, forks, and knives that are curved or bendable to make it easy for disabled or elderly patients to eat their food. If grasping, cutting, or taking food into the mouth is difficult for your elderly loved one, then you can use the following angled eating utensils:
- When twisted at any angle, the eating help soup spoon’s distinctive swivel design maintains food on the stainless steel utensil.
- 6.5″ swivel soup spoon with a notch in the handle for a better grip..
- Ideal for persons who have minimal or no muscle control and shake their hands, such as the elderly, crippled, and disabled; not suitable for people who have severe tremors.
- Prevents unsteady hands from interfering with the ability to eat independently, making mealtime easier for persons with restricted wrist and arm movement, a weak grip, limited mobility, and functional movement issues.
- Dishwasher safe up to 180°F, free of BPA and phthalates, and made of non-latex plastic.
Note: It isn’t appropriate for someone with severe tremors.
- Our adaptive cutlery set is made of stainless steel
- The larger back end of the light handle is more suited to hold, and the round design of the spoon mouth is also more practical to scoop up food, making this curved spoon for seniors easy and comfortable to use.
- Each spoon measured 17 cm/6.7 inches in length and 3.8 cm/1.5 inches in diameter
- Easy to clean.
- This product is odorless and corrosion resistant
- Left-handed angled spoon (40° angle) that minimizes wrist twisting.
- Made of closed-cell foam and features finger contours for more comfortable and good grip.
- Lightweight and durable.
- A recommended choice for people with arthritis and Parkinson’s.
- Not dishwasher safe – hand wash only.
Plastisol Coated Spoons
There is a protective coating on the plastisol coated spoons that reduces the chances of injuring the mouth due to biting reflexes or restricted coordination. Such spoons are an excellent choice for people with limited coordination and mild biting reflexes. If the patient also has a disability or weak hand muscles, you can use an adapted utensil holder with a plastisol coated spoon so he can eat with independence.
As the name suggests, weighted utensils have added weight in their handles to help reduce hand tremors, allowing more control and grip while eating. The added weight also helps in stabilizing the shaky hands to give proprioceptive feedback to people who have sensory problems.
To have a detailed look at the best options available in the market for weighted utensils, check out our article on Best Weighted Cutlery Sets for Tremors and Parkinson’s.
2. Eating Utensil Holders
Eating utensil holders assist people who cannot hold spoons, forks, or other eating utensils. There are universal cuffs and straps that can help such people grip their cutlery without needing anyone’s assistance.
Here are the best eating utensil holders:
- PrimeMed Utensil Holder Utilizes a Multipurpose Pocket
- Our Utensil Grip Holders Strap on With a Secure Hook and Loop Closure System
- The Hand Strap Is Easily Adjustable to Shape Itself to Any Hand Type
- PrimeMed Hand Strap Utensil Holder Is Designed to Provide the Independence to Easily Be Able to Perform Tasks
- Daily living ADL cuff
- Made with a 1-Inch-Wide Machine Washable Nylon Webbing
- A recommended choice for disabled, elderly, handicapped etc.
- Easily slides into any standard universal cuff or strap.
- A recommended choice for elderly people with weak or limited grasp, disabled, or those who have arthritis.
- Positions cutlery, pencils, pens, toothbrush, etc. at a right angle so they can be used easily.
Note: It serves only as a cuff extension. To use it, you should already have a utensil holder and strap.
- The hand strap is made of anti-slip webbing material to ensure that it provides a strong grip for different items you put in it.
- Easily slides into knife, spoon, fork, toothbrush, pens, and pencils.
- Lightweight and easy to use.
- One size fits all – for both right and left-handed people.
- It is equipped with self-closure, D-ring.
- Machine washable.
- A recommended choice for hand cramps, hand/finger trembling, hand injuries, stroke patients, and finger deformation.
3. Bibs & Clothing Protectors
Elderly patients can spill food on their clothes that can become a headache for caregivers to wash every time they eat food. In this case, a functional adult bib works great in helping caregivers feed senior patients with disabilities. These bibs and clothing protectors come in a variety of durable closures to choose from. If you don’t want an adult bib, you can get napkin bib clips and make a clothing protector out of a napkin.
Adult Bibs with Snap Closures
These type of bibs are equipped with snap closures that are easy for caregivers to use. They provide reliable performance even after you wash them several times. You can buy colored bibs, fully waterproof backing bibs, and bibs made of printed fabric, according to the choice of the senior. Adult bibs with snap closures are more durable than other types, and they provide more protection for clothing when eating meals.
Napkin Bib Clips
If you don’t want to purchase a bib for your elderly loved one because you already have napkins, you can get napkin bib clips that provide caregivers with a better way to protect elderly patient’s clothing during meals. Several types of napkin bib clips are available in the market to choose from, including a bib clip with adjustable cords, pretty jeweled chains, etc.
With these bib clips, you can secure a napkin around their neck instead of tucking a bib into their shirt.
This one is a set of four adjustable napkin bib clips by perfektchoice that have built-in clips at each end along with adjustable locks to secure the napkin around the patient’s neck. The best thing about this napkin bib clip is that it is made with dacron, which makes it flexible, soft, and portable. All you need to do as a caregiver is put this clip around the elderly one’s neck and then clip each end to a napkin to use it as a bib.
4. Adapted Drinking Aids
If a senior patient is unable to drink, there are specialized drinking cups, mugs, and adapted straws that can help him drink independently. Adapted drinking aids allow patients who have difficulty holding cups and glasses to be able to drink without their caregiver’s assistance.
Here are different types of adapted drinking aids:
No-Spill Cups & Mugs
No-spill cups and mugs feature a variety of handle styles and lids that allow patients to drink independently without anyone’s assistance. These type of cups and mugs are helpful for seniors with various disorders such as tremors, pain and stiffness in the arms, shoulders or neck, reduced grip, and loss of vision or sensation. Feeding cups allow patients to drink liquids even if they are lying down. If your elderly loved one has a problem swallowing liquids, then you can get lids with a small hole, lids with spouts, or lids with a hole for a straw.
Finding and getting the right no-spill cup according to the individual can help make mealtimes much easier for caregivers and their loved ones.
- Has a capacity of 16oz.
- Car cupholder-friendly travel mug.
- Dishwasher safe (top rack only)
- Double-wall plastic construction with a good grip.
- Lifts naturally when knocked accidentally.
- AutoSeal technology – leak and spill-proof.
- Thermalock Vacuum Insulation – drinks stay hot easily up to 7 hours and cold up to 18 hours.
- Easy one-hand drinking with the push of a button.
- Dishwasher safe lid (top rack only)
Safe Swallowing Cups
If a senior patient has a problem swallowing liquids, then you can use safe swallowing cups such as RiJE Dysphagia Cup, that is designed to allow caregivers to control the amount of liquid that is released from the spout. Elderly people who have dysphagia or dementia are at increased risk of choking can benefit from such cups as they promote safe swallowing. There are different designs available, including a cup with a lid that has a button to release the liquid (like the one mentioned above), cut-out or angled cups (also called nosey cups) that allow a patient to drink from the cup without even tilting their head back.
Adapted Drinking Straws & Holders
If safe swallowing cups and no-spill mugs don’t seem good enough, then you can go for adapted drinking straws and holders as they also allow senior patients to drink independently without anyone’s assistance. You can get a cup with a hole for a straw, reusable stainless steel long straws or silicone straws that may also help avoid having to lift the cup at all.
- Keeps hot drink warm and cold drinks cold for a long time.
- Comes in four fun party colors.
- Splash-proof lids – screw top lids with tight straw seal.
- The package includes a straw cleaner so you can keep the straws free from bacteria and mold.
- Easy cleanup (100% handwash only)
- Comfortable to hold for people with arthritis.
- Can hold up to 16oz liquid.
- Non-toxic and BPA-free.
5. Adapted Dining Plates, Plate Guards & Bowls
Adapted dining plates, plate guards and bowls work great in solving eating challenges for people with physical limitations and disabilities that can give caregivers a hard time. Specially designed plates/bowls such as scooper bowls with suction cups have raised edges for scooping foods easily. Adapted bowls that have added weight can help stabilize tremors and shaking for people with arthritis or Parkinson’s.
Non-slip mats increase gripping power and provide a firm surface that can hold the items on the table and prevent them from sliding. Caregivers love these non-slip table mats as they can stop plates from sliding on a table, stop books from slipping on a bookshelf, prevent the paper from slipping during writing, etc.
On the other hand, caregivers can also use large indoor non-slip mats that provide a sure footing for those who face balancing problems either when standing up from a seated position or when sitting in a chair.
Non-Skid Dinnerware Dishes
Non-skid dinnerware dishes, such as Norestar 16-Piece Dishware Set, are of great help for senior patients who need extra stability due to decreased dexterity. With non-skid dinnerware dishes, such individuals can eat their food independently with dignity. These type of dishes have suction bases or non-slip bottoms that hold onto the surface and provide a strong grip to the user when he/she is eating.
Non-skid dinnerware dishes are recommended for people with Parkinson’s, hand tremors, stroke or other neurological disabilities.
To make it convenient for senior patients with Parkinson’s, arthritis, hand tremors, or any other problem eat their food without anyone’s help, all the supplies mentioned above are helpful. If you don’t have these, you are missing out on comfort as a caregiver. Having these things will make sure that you can feed your elderly patient with ease. Plus, adapted utensils allow senior patients to feed themselves without anyone’s assistance that can be a great thing for caregivers.