Thanks Ronnie for finding this and to the Davis Phinney Foundation for the article. Check out their other articles.
- November 21, 2016
Take Advantage of Adaptive Equipment and Tools
Here are ideas and items that can help:
- Plates. Another helpful bit of adaptive equipment is known as a plate guard. This device slips onto a plate in order to provide an edge to push-up against when using utensils. It also prevents items from spilling out over the edge of the plate. Plate guards are available at many local medical supply stores. Again, you may also seek out items available at local houseware and department stores that can provide some of the same benefit with a little more sense of style.
- Cups. Use a cup with a lid to reduce the risk of spills if tipped over. This could easily be a travel mug or a plastic cup that has its own lid and straw. However, people who have swallowing problems may have trouble drinking liquids with a straw. If you have trouble drinking with a straw or swallowing in general, consult a speech language pathologist for a solution tailored to your own specific situation. Cups with very wide bases can also help avoid spilling, although sometimes these can be difficult to manage.
- Foam Tubing. Another simple solution is to put a small amount of foam tubing over existing utensils. These materials are also often available at medical supply stores, although you may be able to find something similar at a local hardware store (just be sure to wash these items thoroughly with soap and water before use).
How to adjust your food preparation
Here are some adjustments to try out:
- Incorporate “Finger Foods” into the Mix. Consider being creative with your menu choices in order to provide items that can easily be eaten with your fingers. This can be easily
achieved with some of the snack items that are common at holiday meals, such as crudites (like carrots and celery sticks), fruit, cheeses and olives. For a main dish, consider preparing meats that are commonly eaten with the hands, such as chicken drumsticks or ribs. Both of these can be prepared very easily using a slow cooker. A slow cooker is also an excellent option for making pulled pork and other shredded meats.
Although those are not specifically eaten by hand, they can be placed into a simple sandwich and the already shredded consistency is easy to chew and swallow. A simple sandwich or even a hamburger can be an excellent option, as well, particularly if it’s cut into quarters to make it easier to eat.
- Crockpot Magic. As you begin to prepare finger foods, consider a crockpot. Slow cookers produce food items that are very soft with additional moisture. As noted above, this can be particularly beneficial when cooking meat because it makes it particularly easy to eat. While you’re cooking different types of meat, you can also add in vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and other options that will be cooked at the same time to a very soft consistency. When cooked in this way, many of these items are not only easier to cut up and eat (with or without utensils), but they have the added benefit of being softer and easier to chew and swallow.
- Don’t Forget the Condiments. Condiments such as ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise serve a number of purposes at mealtimes. They are often used to make food more appetizing, particularly if your tastes have changed over time due to the loss of sense of smell. Condiments can also provide needed moisture and “lubrication” that can make eating and swallowing significantly more efficient.
Expanding your definition of condiments to include spreads such as hummus, guacamole and various dips and sauces will add moisture, nutrients and extra calories, in addition to making food less thick and sticky. One of the ultimate condiments this time of year is gravy. Gravy can make a number of foods taste much better while simultaneously making them easier to eat.