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Style And Sustenance: Why Adapted Cutlery Makes For Easier Mealtimes

Posted by Mike Phipps on September 19, 2020

Various adapted cutlery that is available for sale on the Ability Superstore website

Of all the tools humans have invented, cutlery is among the most commonly used. Still, it’s also among the least essential for survival and probably one of the items used in everyday life that we take for granted and overlook!

Of course, we’d struggle to eat piping hot food without forks, spoons and chopsticks! Still, their development has as much to do with etiquette and manners, as it does necessity.

The knife predates any of its tableware teammates by a substantial period of time. 

Stone ‘blades’ made before the Neolithic age have been found. And the Bronze Age — 3,000-700BC — ushered in a revolution in metalwork that gave these tools new significance.

In Europe, at least, these types of ‘tools’ wouldn’t become synonymous with eating until much later, when other cutlery and utensils were adopted en masse by ‘polite members of society’ during the Middle Ages. Or, at least to those who could afford them!

What is adapted cutlery?

Adapted cutlery is a much more recent idea with products only really hitting the mass market in the 20th Century. Adapted cutlery, often referred to as adaptive cutlery, is one of the most popular mobility aids we sell.

Specifically designed for people who find it difficult to use ‘standard’ cutlery, adapted cutlery can refer to anything from left-handed utensils to wide forks, to combined knives and forks (or Knorks), to items with built-up handles, weighted handles, and shafts that can bend to name just a few examples. Amefa Cutlery, for example, offers a unique straight knife with a curved, tapered handle for better grip.

The breadth of designs and types of adapted cutlery reflect the wide range of disabilities, movement and mobility issues the products can help with.

Accessories are also available like straps to secure cutlery to the wrist if there’s a risk of utensils being dropped or similar mealtime mishaps.

How does adapted cutlery help?

Adapted cutlery follows principles of ergonomics. It’s a word we often hear, but might not really understand, yet the definition is pretty simple. This school of design and engineering is all about applying what we know about how our minds and bodies work to the development of new products.

These are not always aimed at people with disabilities, in fact, far from it. But they are necessary for the treatment of many things, from short-term physical injuries to more permanent conditions such as a weakened grip due to a stroke. Adapted cutlery is designed in such a way to replicate their standard use as a tool for eating or cooking, but with adaptations in the design to allow for various constraints or conditions.

These adaptations make the difference between independent and assisted dining, which is obviously a significant win for self-esteem, confidence and independence, making them a popular disability aid.

In more challenging caregiving situations, mealtimes can be particularly problematic. There can be physical problems with feeding or more sensory stresses resulting from specific textures. Adapted cutlery can ease the pressure by reducing eating and clean up times.

How to choose adapted cutlery

Ability Superstore prides itself on supplying the best quality mobility aids and disability products. We’re also experts advising on all things accessibility. This includes adapted cutlery, as our guide to choosing the right adapted cutlery shows.

One of our many informative User Guides, How To Buy Adapted Cutlery takes you through the necessary considerations to help ensure you buy precisely the right cutlery for your needs.

The guide also includes a section on specially weighted cutlery, which is designed to help people who suffer from tremors, which can be a symptom of conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. Again, thanks to ergonomics, ranges like Keatlery’s Weighted Cutlery are possible, which combine the benefits of specialised design with a traditional look.

Making your own adapted cutlery

OK, so it’s unlikely you’ll be heading for the nearest blacksmith to forge bespoke forks anytime soon. Still, it is possible to make your own adapted cutlery, or at least modify cutlery to help people with disabilities, effectively making it adapted cutlery.

For example, by building up handles using closed cell foam tubing, you can turn a standard spoon into something much easier to grip.

Foam tubing is also available in different colours, which can be useful if you need adapted cutlery for someone who has a visual impairment, cognitive processing problems, or young children. The tubing is also dishwasher safe and non-absorbent.

Getting to grips with adapted cutlery

It’s vital to remember that with most disability aids and mobility aids, perception remains a big problem, and that’s certainly evident when it comes to getting people to start using adapted cutlery, particularly in later life, or when a change in mobility occurs suddenly.

However, we find that once people have tried using these utensils, they realise what life-changing items they can be and they soon become an everyday staple in their kitchen, making it easier to remain independent which certainly is no bad thing.