At the last support group meeting, some of us were talking about two gadgets in particular — weighted utensils and bed canes. I said I’d follow up with a couple of folks about these gadgets. Rather than just sending the follow-up email to those couple of people, I thought I’d include everyone.
There was a disability conference in SJ last year. There was a workshop devoted entirely to gadgets. The presenter passed around some weighted utensils and explained that these were useful to those with Parkinson’s. I’m sure many of you have seen the utensils with the large, black Oxo handles (ergonomic, soft, big grip). (The assisted living center where my Dad lives ordered a set at my request. They paid $20/each.) The presenter made of point of saying that while those were good, the weighted ones were better. Somehow the weight sends a signal to the brain that there’s something for the hand to grip. The presenter works for activeforever.com (phone 800/377-8033). I ordered the weighted soup spoon ($7.95, item #A17040 04) and weighted fork ($6.95, item #A17040 01) for my Dad. The weighted utensils do improve my Dad’s grip and he’s better able to eat on his own. If I had to do it again I’d probably get only the spoon. Note that when someone else is holding the utensil and helping with the feeding, you will want to use a regular spoon. The weighted soup spoon is purposely deeper than other soup spoons; we’ve found that the regular spoon works better if someone else is doing the feeding. One other feature of these weighted utensils that we don’t really value but others might is that they are bendable. This company distributes all sorts of accessibility and convenience products. Another one I’ve purchased from them is a plastic scoop dish ($4.95, item #A17023); this is handy to have.
My dad has two — a regular one and a travel one. The regular one is called a BedCane from Standers, Inc. (stander.com – company name ends in S but the web address doesn’t). The handle is wide, very sturdy, and somewhat cushioned. The handle attaches to a solid wood base, which is tied to the mattress. The whole thing is very sturdy. I think we paid $60 for this. The travel bed cane is called TravelHandles from Bed Handles (bedhandles.com). They cost $110 for a box of two handles. Another support group member and I recently split the cost and each got a handle. For us, one handle is sufficient. It worked great in Acapulco with my Dad last week! The only caution I would have is that the handle is a bit large; it would only fit in our large suitcase. We also have the non-travel version called the Original Bedside Assistant; I would say the travel version feels just as sturdy although the travel handle is made from aluminum.
If any of you have a gadget you’d like to recommend, send me an email and I’ll distribute it to the wider group.