Challenges with independently feeding yourself can be frustrating and upsetting. Some difficulties may be alleviated with simple solutions such as those listed below. An occupational therapist will be able to demonstrate these solutions as well as provide additional techniques or strategies to further assist an individual with maintaining independence during dining. If you or a significant other have difficulties swallowing, this should be addressed with your primary care physician as soon as possible.
Built Up Utensils:
Utensils with large handles will decrease the amount of hand strength required to grip silverware. A built up handle can be added to your silverware by placing tubing around the handle. Utensils with built up handles can be purchased relatively inexpensively. Particular consideration should be given to the weight of the utensil. A weighted utensil is primarily recommended to reduce tremor. A light weight, built up handle is preferable for individuals with decreased hand or arm strength.
Universal Cuff:
This is designed to be strapped around the palm of your hand. It has a pocket which will hold an eating or a writing utensil. This eliminates the need to grasp the item firmly.
Plate Guards and Adapted Plates:
Plate guards clip on to your dishware and provide a right angle to assist with scooping food onto your utensil. Adapted plates and bowls have a built in lip which assists with scooping food.
Cups and Straws:
Extra- long straws may prevent the need to lift a cup, and may be found at your local gas station. Some individuals use sippy cups with a lid to prevent spills. An alternative to a child’s cup is using a travel mug for your drinks.
Dycem is a rubber mat that prevents plates or bowls from sliding on a table. This material may be particularly helpful if food items are being sliced. Non-slip drawer and shelf liner (available at Wal-Mart and Target) will provide a similar solution albeit it is not as strong as dycem.