For people with a tremor, reduced strength or range of motion in the hands, using standard cutlery may become difficult. Controlling it accurately can be a challenge, making meal times awkward. Fortunately there are certain sets of knives and forks which have adaptations making them easier to control.
Specialist knives, forks and Caring Cutlery
Conventional metal cutlery tends to be quite narrow. It requires the user to have a precise grip. For people with arthritis in the hands and fingers, this can be painful. Cutlery featuring a wider handle can dramatically improve this.
By spreading the weight more evenly through the hand, ‘built-up’ handled cutlery improves control. People tend to find larger items do not require such a tight grip, which can lead to increased tremors.
Another method of expanding the girth of cutlery handles is by using foam tubing. This is available in different thicknesses and fits to standard cutlery. Wrapping cutlery with certain types of thick tape has a similar affect if used correctly.
Some special knives and forks like ‘Caring Cutlery’, have features which further assist user control. Items in this range have a contoured design which fits snugly in the hand. Its shape also features an indentation on the top, enabling firm positioning of the index finger. This greatly improves control and reduces the impact of tremors.
Other adapted implements, similar to Caring Cutlery, have similar oversized handles. Some come with the additional benefit of ‘directional’ heads. This means the head of the spoon or fork can be set at an angle to suit the user.
If you have a limited range of motion, you may find it difficult to direct conventional spoons and forks into your mouth. The possibility of angling the heads to make the process easier may help.
Using a sock aid or long-handled shoe-horn
As people in their 40s and 50s know only too well, one’s flexibility can rapidly diminish. Just reaching down to your feet can be a struggle after a certain age. Where once you might have been able to touch your toes, now you can barely reach your shins! Whether it is due to back problems joint stiffness, it causes practical problems when getting dressed.
The knock-on impact of this is difficulty in putting on shoes and socks. The act of stretching down and pulling upwards, the action required to pull-on socks, can be hard. There are pieces of equipment available which help with just this kind of problem.
One popular tool for putting on socks uses a plastic ‘channel’. This device comes with two chords attached to one end. The ‘open’ sock fits over the opposite end of the channel to the chord fixings.
Holding a chord in each hand, the user lowers the channel to the floor. The foot then slides into the channel with the opening of the sock at the far end. Holding the chords in either hand, the channel, along with the attached sock, pulls up towards the user. This in turn brings the sock over the foot and up the ankle.
As the sock pulls upwards, the plastic channel of the sock aid naturally runs out of room and disconnects with it. This completes the process.
While these steps are quite difficult to explain on paper, most people get the hang of it with practice. The idea is that one can put on the sock without having to reach one’s feet.
Long-handled shoe-horns are available which assist putting on shoes. Elastic laces might also help. Using these means you don’t have to repeatedly tie and untie your shoes when you put them on or off.
Another useful living aid for people with reduced flexibility is a reacher. These devices, sometimes known as grabbers or reaching aids, enable the use to reach things which would otherwise be out of their grasp. This can be of great assistance when getting dressed. Reaching down to pull up trousers from ground level is one such practical use.