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Taking time out to sit down and eat a nutritious meal is incredibly important, but for those with dexterity issues, it can also be incredibly frustrating. Between arthritis — the catchall term for joint pain or disease — and musculoskeletal problems, many older Americans struggle with hand pain and disability. In fact, a 2007 study in Rheumatology found that these issues were common for US residents aged 50 and over, and had a significant impact on their everyday life — particularly for women. What’s more, severe hand-related disability was prevalent is 12.3 percent of more than 2,000 study participants. This is where the best adaptive utensils come in. Created especially for those who struggle to use their hands to use around the dinner table, these kitchen tools can be life-changing.
What are adaptive utensils?
Crafted to help make eating more enjoyable and less of a task, adaptive eating utensils consist of silverware and kitchen tools that cater to those with physical or developmental disabilities, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), strokes, tremors, hand deformities, poor fine motor skills, weak grip, and arthritis — just to name a few. Some feature more ergonomic designs, while others allow users to go completely hands-free.
These utensils do much more than simply ensure that hand pain sufferers receive proper nourishment, however. By giving them the freedom and independence to feed themselves, these tools ultimately provide a much-needed boost of confidence, reminding users that all bodies are able bodies.
Best Adaptive Utensils for Adults
From a rocking knife that doesn’t require precise holding ($18.99, Amazon) to a hand-free can opener that can be get your cans open with one touch of a button ($24.60, Amazon), we’ve got all the tools you’ll need to enjoy any meal without incident. If you’re ready to make your life — and that of your loved ones — easier, keep scrolling for Woman World’s picks for the best adaptive utensils for adults.
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Best Adaptive Utensils Weighted Utensils Set Stylish
Best Weighted Silverware —Kinsman KEatlery
Where to buy: $39.95 (Originally $42.95), Amazon
Looking for a weighted adaptive utensil set that won't draw a second glance? Then you'll love this one from Kinsman. Each included stainless steel utensil weighs 7.3 ounces and is ergonomically designed to help with hand tremors for conditions such as Parkinson's.
One reviewer shared the difference these utensils made with his father, writing,"I am so glad I made this purchase for my dad. He has Parkinsons, and these weighted utensils have helped him tremendously. The thing I like most about them is that they do not look like eating aids — they look just like normal silverware. We will definitely be taking these with us when we go out to eat. ... These certainly help my dad maintain his dignity and allow him to function normally throughout the day."
Best Adaptive Utensils Self Stabalizing Spoon Parkinsons Spoon
Best Stabilizing Spoon — GYENNO Steady Spoon
Where to buy: $179, Amazon
One of the most ingenious adaptive eating utensils to hit the market has been the GYENNO spoon. This self-stabilizing utensil is the ultimate find for anyone with hand tremors or shakes. Boasting battery life of up to three days, this rechargeable spoon vibrates to counteract shaky hands, making spilled food a thing of the past.
One happy customer raved about their purchase, writing, "Bought this for my dad who has Parkinsons and had trouble eating with a spoon. Now, with this GYENNO spoon, his food doesn’t fall off when he has tremors. Totally worth the money and I’m glad he can eat much better now."
Best Adaptive Utensils Bendable Utensil Set for Arthritis
Best Easy Grip Flatware — Mars Wellness
Where to buy: $17.99, Amazon
For some, the best adaptive utensils are the ones that can be customized, like this three-piece easy-grip flatware set from Mars Wellness. Featuring a wide ribbed handle with raised, textured grips and twist shafts that allow you to bend pieces to your liking, this stainless steel set pick perfect for anyone looking for a more comfortable eating experience with improved dexterity and control.
One reviewer wrote, "This flatware set works really well. The handles are pliable, so you can shape them for either left or right-handed people. They are also easy to hold onto if you have arthritic hands and have trouble gripping standard flatware. We bought them for my dad who has arthritis, and he is very happy with them.
Raved another: "These are really great for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients or anyone with limited function of the hands."
Best Adaptive Utensils Rocking Knife
Best Rocking Knife — MaxiAids
Where to buy: $18.99 (Originally $20.72), Amazon
For those with certain conditions and hand limitations, holding a knife can prove nearly impossible — but it doesn't have to be, thanks to MaxiAids' innovative rocking knife. Simple to use and made from high-quality wood and stainless steel, this handy tool comfortably cuts through everything from vegetables to all kinds of meat without much effort or strain on hands.
One reviewer explained how much this knife improved her husband's life, writing, "My husband ... had a stroke and lost use of one arm/hand. This utensil gave him much-needed dignity and independence. No longer has to ask to have his food cut. Cuts steaks and meat of all kinds and easily addresses veggies. Makes him very happy and thus me too!"
Best Adaptive Utensils Padding Grips
Best Padding Grips — Vive
Where to buy: $12.99, Amazon
Whether you suffer from something like arthritis or are dealing with the aftermath of a stroke, experiencing a loss of grip can make basic functions, such as eating, particularly hard. That's why having a set of customizable padding grips, like these ones from Vive, is essential. Providing a wider grip for greater control, these grips come in a set of nine and have three different sizes to easily wrap around everything from silverware and pens to toothbrushes and more.
One happy purchaser gushed: "I have tried many grip helpers and this is the BEST yet. I love the assortment of sizes that are included. I have arthritis in my hands and this product helps me hold things with less pain."
Best Adaptive Utensils For Weak Grip
Best Lightweight Silverware — Celley
Where to buy: $17.99, Amazon
Specially-designed for those with limited muscle control, trembling hands, or arthritis, this lightweight four-piece set comes with one fork, one knife, one teaspoon, and one tablespoon. It's made from stainless steel and features a sleek, long body with a wide frame and rubber grip handle.
Amazon buyer Jennifer explained how helpful these utensils have been for her grandmother, writing, "We recently bought adaptive eating utensils for my 90-year-old grandmother. She is recovering from a massive right cerebral stroke. ... She is determined and wanted to feed herself. These utensils are the beginning of her independence. She is able to hold them and keep the large handles moving the direction she wants it to go. The size of the handle and the weight of the utensils is perfect for an unstable arm. She's able to pick up food and get it to her mouth with ease."
Best Adaptive Utensils Stretchy Cuffs
Best Adaptive Aid — EazyHold
Where to buy: From $36.99, Amazon
If you have a set of utensils you absolutely love, but want to make them adaptive, you can pick up a set of EazyHold's adaptive grips. A hygienic upgrade to fabric cuff-straps, these 100 percent silicone cuffs are colorful and easy to clean. They also have a stretchy construction that makes it easy to slide them over most utensils.
"I purchased these for my husband’s grandmother, who has rheumatoid arthritis really bad in her hands and just has the hardest time holding anything — never mind thin items, like forks. She doesn’t like attention, or to look ‘weak’ or like she needs help. I had her try one of these cuffs on her fork at a family dinner, and she was able to eat easily and without making a giant mess for the first time in probably years. ... It worked like a charm, and since it is pretty small and unobtrusive, she didn’t feel like everyone was staring at her and her special equipment."
Best Adaptive Utensils Set for elderly Alzheimer's
Best Table Setting for Alzheimer's — Essential Medical Supply
Where to buy: $51.25, Amazon
If you or someone you know has Alzheimer's or dementia who struggles with their food intake, it may be time to pick up some red dinnerware. Studies have shown that as memory problems progress, so do visual problems. Visual-cognitive difficulties make it harder to not only see, but recognize the food on your plate. The idea behind this set is that by contrasting the colors of the dinnerware with the colors of food, an increase will be seen visual recognition and meal consumption — and one study found this to be true, with its participants eating 25 percent more as a result. This set comes complete with one scoop bowl, one scoop dish, one bendable knife, one bendable fork, one rocker knife and one nose cut-out cup.
"These red dishes have helped my 97-year-old friend keep her independence during meal time," raved one Amazon customer. "She sees the food better, gets it on her utensil easier, and the plate doesn't move."
Another buyer wrote: "My father has Alzheimer's and he ate twice as much the very first time we used these for him!"