Lifestyle aids: eating & drinking
A variety of lifestyle aids
are available to assist people who have difficulty eating and
drinking due to hand weakness, pain, stiffness, tremor, lack of
coordination, or who are only able to use one hand.
It is important to be seated in a comfortable
and supportive chair, and close to a table at the right height.
Features of a good chair include a sturdy chair which has
adjustable seat height, contoured backrest and armrest.
Sitting in a stable relaxed posture, within
comfortable reach of food and drink items, enables better use of
existing abilities. Tables with a cut out section further increase
the seated person's stability, and decrease the requirement for
Cutlery, handle adaptations &
Standard cutlery can be made easier to use by
enlarging the handle with foam tubing or clay. Cutlery is also
available with ready made built-up handles.
Angled knives enable a stronger grip and allow
a sawing action to be used to cut food. Rocker knives enable people
to cut food using one hand. Some knives combine the rocking knife
action with a fork for entirely one-handed eating.
People with limited or no grasp can use a
Velcro strap which wraps around the hand and also around the handle
of a fork/spoon to hold it in place. Some straps have a pocket in
the palmer section so the cutlery can be inserted and removed
easily from hand or limb.
Spoons and forks with an angled shaft can
assist those with limited arm movement to manipulate food into the
Standard cutlery can sometimes be bent for this
purpose and the handle modified to suit their needs. Weighted
cutlery may reduce spillage of food for individuals with
Plates & non-slip bases
A clip-on plate guard can be added to most
plates to provide an edge to push against. This may help to prevent
spills for people with coordination, tremor or vision issues, and
may help to push food onto the spoon for people who can only use
A variety of non-slip materials are available
or can be improved to prevent plates or cups slipping. This may be
useful for people with tremor or lack of coordination, or for
people with the use of one hand only.
Suction cups on the bottom of a plate or bowl
may also be useful, and may hold items in place more firmly than
many non-slip products.
Cups, beakers & straws
Two-handed mugs may be useful for some people,
to lift or stabilize a cup. Weighted mugs can also be useful in
reducing tremor. Lightweight cups can assist those with upper limb
weakness and coordination problems.
Insulated mugs are useful to prevent burns, as
well as to help keep liquids hot or cool.
An outward lip or flange at the base of a cup
can assist to prevent spills. Another option is a separate base
that the cup fits into.
Cups with a cut out section are useful for
people unable to tilt their head backwards. They also prevent the
rim of the cup pressing on the nose of a person with an
uncontrolled bite reflex. Cut out cups also enable the carer to
view the contents of the cup when giving someone a drink.
Straws eliminate the need to lift, hold and
manipulate the cup in a coordinated way. Straws that feature a
one-way valve reduce the effort required to draw fluids up through
the straw, and are useful for people with difficulty sucking and
Beakers or cups which feature a lid with a
spout are useful for preventing spills and regulating the flow of
liquid into the mouth. Cups with large handles may assist those
with weak grasp by allowing them to place their whole hand through
References and further information
Reproduced with permission from LifeTec. Visit their
website at www.lifetec.org.au
for all their fact sheets.