Top 8 Strategies for Easier Eating with Parkinson's Disease

Top 8 Strategies for Easier Eating with Parkinson's Disease

Living with Parkinson's disease can present unique challenges, especially when it comes to everyday tasks like eating. But with the help of innovative tools and techniques, individuals with Parkinson's or other diseases that cause tremors can still enjoy their meals and not just be eating because you have to.

If you've noticed less eating out, less desire to eat around friends and family or unintended weight loss then finding ways to make eating more enjoyable is even more important. What we don't want is more isolation and less nutrition because that fights against our ability to live life with Parkinson's. So let's dive into some things that can help!

How Does Ergonomic Positioning Help?

Ergonomic position AskSAMIE

Before getting any new products or tools first start with better ergonomic positioning. While tremors are associated with neurological changes that can be minimized with first being in a body position that is well supported. This technique works in all kinds of activities which is why things like walkers are often recommended.  By making simple adjustments to the dining environment, individuals can improve their stability and in turn make it easier to bring food to the mouth. Here's what to do:

1. Start with a firm, sturdy chair with arm rests and a solid back. This provides support for the back, arms and hips so the body doesn't have to work so hard to stabilize those areas.

2. Sit at a solid table that doesn't move and is at a height that allow the person's elbows to rest easily on it. I know it might be considered rude to put your elbows on the table but in this case we're giving everyone a pass! It's really important to be able to steady the hands by anchoring the upper arm and elbow close to the body and on something supportive.

Once we're in that position, where all parts of the body are supported this provides the best opportunity to keep the hand steady for eating. If this setup leaves the person still struggling to enjoy eating then its time to add some innovative tools to help.

What is a Swivel Spoon and How Does it Help?

Swivel Spoon AskSAMIE

3. A swivel spoon is a simple tool that incorporates a joint between the handle and the spoon head that allows it to remain level, regardless of the user's hand movements or tremors. This feature is incredibly beneficial for people with a mild tremor as so individuals can scoop up food with limited spills or messes, maintaining greater independence and dignity during meals. The spoon's unique design helps alleviate frustration and enhances the overall dining experience for those dealing with the motor challenges associated with Parkinson's disease.

What is the Gyenno Spoon and How Does it Work?

Gyenno Spoon AskSAMIE

4. The Gyenno Spoon is an ergonomic spoon that utilizes advanced technology to counteract the effects of hand tremors. It's a similar concept as the swivel spoon but instead features a built-in technology that detects and compensates for hand movements, allowing the spoon to remain steady and level. This innovative design enables individuals with mild to moderate tremors to eat more comfortably and with reduced spillage.


What is a S'up Spoon?

5. The S'up Spoon is like a mini cup on a spoon. So without needing any technology, just a really well design concept gets you the ability to bring food to the mouth without spilling! Tip the spoon further back or more vertically to provide more support. It's like a mini cup so it works really well for mild to severely shaky hands.

S'up Spoon AskSAMIE

The spoon is small enough to fit in a purse or small bag for carrying on the go to use at your favorite restaurant or any social outing. The mini spoon is great for kids or anyone with a more petite hand or mouth.

Can weighted bracelets help with eating?

6. Absolutely! If the person can grab one hand with the other and get the tremors to calm down then likely adding a weight via a weighted bracelet will help with steadying the hand. If the tremors are mild to moderate adding weight can then slow the tremors enough that using traditional silverware is still effective

Practical Tips for Making Eating Easier

Additionally, it's important to have some practical tips to make eating easier for individuals with Parkinson's, and while they are not as cool as the tech involved in these cool spoons, these tips may actually make the most impact:

7. Eat slowly: Slowing down the pace of eating allows individuals to focus on their movements and reduces the risk of spills or accidents.

8. Engage in regular exercise: Physical activity, especially exercises that target the core (abs & back), can help improve coordination and control.

While everyone needs to eat and we always figure out a way to get it done, there are a lot of unintended, negative consequences of not having ease and comfort with eating like feeling less comfortable to eat around others which leads to more isolation and often less food consumed.

By incorporating these tips and utilizing tools like a swivel spoon, a S'up Spoon, the Gyenno Spoon or a weighted bracelets meals can be enjoyable again!

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Brandy Archie, OTD, OTR/L, CLIPP

Dr. Archie received her doctorate in occupational therapy from Creighton University. She is a certified Living in Place Professional with past certifications in low vision therapy, brain injury and driving rehabilitation.  Dr. Archie has over 15 years of experience in home health and elder focused practice settings which led her to start AskSAMIE, a curated marketplace to make aging in place possible for anyone, anywhere! Answer some questions about the problems the person is having and then a personalized cart of adaptive equipment and resources is provided.

She's a wife, mother of 3 and a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan! Connect with her on Linked In or by email anytime.

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