When a person is first diagnosed with dementia they may not find eating a challenge at all. After some time, this will however be affected. Further explained here and for anyone who hasn’t seen the Eatwell set before, this is a great video explaining all:
After my Mother was diagnosed with dementia, her ability to use cutlery declined. The stage at which this happens may be different from person to person, since, if you’ve met one person with dementia, then you’ve met One person with dementia. Every person is different and their experience in dementia (noting also, the types of dementia), will be different. As motor skills decline, it’s therefore a natural progression to just offer a fork with food that may be bite size or cut up. At some point, this will be switched out for a spoon. A fork is quite a sharp object when mis-matched to the mouth.
Before I heard about the Eatwell set, we often presented my Mother with a spoon. It worked in the short term but not for long. What you’ll find with almost everyone having difficulty with a spoon is the turning and tipping approach is the hardest. If a spoon is working: stick with it, but if it’s not, then I would recommend the Eatwell set and definitely the Eatwell spoon.
The Eatwell spoon which is inviting and brightly coloured, so not easily lost by the eye; has an easy grip handle, a deeper spoon side and is curved as you can see above, making it so much easier to use. You can easily scoop food onto it, tip it to the mouth, and it still works, as demonstrated in the video.
Fingers Before Forks
At some point, cutlery may be void. If a person can’t feed themselves using utensils, don’t force it. Patience is required. Through dementia, skills are sadly lost and wont be regained. This has gone from the memory. Foster independence where possible. If finger food is an option or a person attempts to ‘carry on regardless’ but with digits, why not. This is not a test. Let those navigating dementia find what works best for them.
When feeding one’s self stops then being fed is required. I found that using Eatwell spoons as a carer is even worse than a regular spoon because of course, they’re designed for self feeding not the other way around. Regular spoons are also quite sharp when approaching someone to feed them. In this case, switching to soft plastic spoons is best. These are the softest and most delicate ones that I found online.
I would point out at that what’s been discussed here is not where your options end, whatever works for you, will be appropriate. There are some great wooden spoons available on the market which are equally very soft and easy to use, as well as sustainable.