Maintaining independence with adaptive equipment
As we age, certain conditions can limit our independence. However, support and products are available to help make life a little easier, especially for individuals living with Parkinson’s.
According to the NHS, “Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years”, and symptoms include slow movements, tremors and stiff and inflexible muscles. We understand how much life changes when you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but it is still possible to live an independent life at home. From rocker knives and gripped cutlery to elastic waist trousers and clothes with magnetic closures, here are a few products to help you out.
Rocker knives are a great way to encourage independent cooking and allow individuals to prepare meals. This primarily benefits those who have always loved cooking a feast for family and friends and have limited hand movement. It gives you more control and makes it easier to cut food using just one hand. It ultimately makes your cooking experience enjoyable and more accessible.
Different types of adaptive utensils are available to make your dining experience enjoyable. These include utensils with extra-large and easy-to-grip handles. You can even purchase sleeves that can be placed over existing cutlery, making it easier to hold. These are ideal for those that experience stiffness and weakness in their hands.
Bendable utensils are also available, designed to improve independence while eating. For example, you can purchase spoons bent up to 90 degrees and adjusted to the desired angle for the user. They also tend to be lightweight, making it easier for individuals with limited strength and mobility.
Gyenno Bravo Twist Spoon
The Gyenno Bravo Twist Spoon is designed to help people with hand tremors or limited hand and arm movement. Although they are expensive, these spoons adapt to your hand tremor, which shakes 85% less than your hand. So you can eat without any spillages. It also comes with a fork attachment, a charging box and a cable.
We all love a nice hot cuppa and a kettle tipper is precisely what you need. It’s a pouring aid that allows you to pour water safely without lifting the kettle. We understand that lifting a kettle can be a struggle, especially if you have stiff and weak muscles- this is a reliable tool worth having. It helps to reduce the risks of spills and injuries too. So next time you want a cup of tea with biscuits, you can make one without worrying.
Jar openers are great for opening those pesky jars, preventing you from straining your hand and wrist. No need to get a tea towel or wait for someone to open it for you; all you need is a jar opener. It provides you with the control and comfort to open jars with ease. Some even come with bottle openers too.
A plate guard fits around the edge of a plate which prevents food from falling off. It is beneficial for those who only use one hand while eating. They are easy to clip on and remove, so you shouldn’t have any trouble and can enjoy your meal in peace.
Adaptive cutting board
Adaptive cutting boards are available in small and large sizes. They help individuals to prepare and cut different foods, including fruit and vegetables. These cutting boards have spikes to hold food securely and edge guards to prevent food from sliding off. They also have suction feet to prevent the cutting board from moving. So, whether you fancy an apple, pear or a sandwich, it may be worth investing in an adaptive cutting board. You won’t be disappointed.
Elevated toilet seat
Parkinson’s UK states, “A raised toilet seat can help you get up more easily from a seated position on the toilet and can help you maintain your independence.” It puts less pressure on your muscles and joints, giving you the stability you need when using the toilet. These are available from a variety of retailers.
Handrails or grab rails can be placed by the toilet to provide stability. This will allow you to get up and lower yourself on the toilet easily. You can also install rails by the bathtub or shower to help you get in and out without any difficulty. Ensure handrails are screwed into the wall securely and avoid using suction handrails in bathrooms, as they lose their vacuum over time and can lead to falls.
You can arrange an assessment with an occupational therapist or the local council for further advice on installing the handrails.
Non-slip rubber mat
Bathrooms can get a bit slippery, especially when you get in and out of the bath or shower. Having a non-slip rubber mat in the bathtub or shower can prevent you from tripping or falling while you are getting in and out.
Adaptive clothing is designed to make your dressing routine less stressful. You can purchase clothing with different types of closures, including magnetic buttons, Velcro and zips, putting less pressure on your joints and muscles. If your symptoms include hand tremors, adaptive clothing will make getting dressed much more manageable. There are plenty of designers that provide adaptive wear, including Tommy Hilfiger and Adaptawear.
You can purchase magnetic shirts without having the hassle of buttoning your shirt. Elastic waist trousers are also available, providing the comfort you need without wearing a belt. It is important to note that magnetic fasteners are not suitable for individuals with cardiac pacemakers or internal cardiac defibrillators, as they can interfere with the device setting.
For ladies, front-fastening bras are available from various clothing companies at an affordable price. They are easier to put on and said to last longer too.
Tying shoes can be a struggle, but don’t worry. Xpand Laces is a brand that provides laces that once you install your laces into your shoes, you won’t need to tie your laces up at all. You can just slip on your shoes or trainers without any hassle.
Skechers and other manufacturers also make slip-on trainers, ideal for people with poor gait. They provide a secure fit and good grip on the sole.
Page reviewed by Carole Kerton-Church, Regional Clinical Lead on July 31, 2023