As you get older, sometimes you become less independent. Physical or mental diseases or decline take away your ability to do many of the tasks you once took for granted. This process is often very difficult to accept. It causes a lot of questions and heartache. But, there is no shame in asking for or accepting help if you need it. For example, if you have trouble eating because of physical limitations, you need to look for ways to help. This is important because problems with eating cause serious issues with your health and quality of life. Fortunately, there are a number of aids which help with eating. Special plates for elderly people are designed to help people with physical difficulty keep their ability to eat independently as long as possible.
Why do Some Elderly People Need Special Plates?
Most people take eating for granted. It’s something we do while talking or while watching television. Using a knife and fork is automatic. But, when you’re a senior with weakness due to illness, eating is difficult. Tremors in the hands can make food go flying. Arthritis makes it painful to even hold your cutlery. As if that wasn’t bad enough, declining vision plays a role. This makes it difficult for you to find your food. Often leading to you pushing it over the edge of the plate. Having trouble feeding even affects your overall nutrition.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong in this most basic of daily care tasks. That’s why there is a variety of aids on the market that can help no matter what limitation you have. These aids can’t remove your physical challenges. But, plates designed for seniors will allow you to independently enjoy your food. That’s the important part.
Plastic Plates or Ceramic?
If you’re buying plates for your senior family member, or for yourself, think about whether you should buy plastic or ceramic options. Choosing the right material makes it easier for your senior to use the plates. And, make caring for and cleaning the plates simpler as well. To help you make the right choice, here are the key factors:
- Are they easy to clean? Normal ceramic plates may look good but they’re often difficult to clean. Plates that are designed for seniors are usually made of plastic. This makes them easy to wash and dishwasher safe. This is a real bonus if you have to do your own dishes after eating. Family members and caregivers will appreciate this too.
- Will they break easily? People who have trouble eating usually have weaknesses in their hands or wrists. This makes it difficult to hold cutlery as well as getting the spoon or fork to their mouth. Unfortunately, these types of physical problems lead to a lot of plate breakages. This usually happens during washing or while moving the plate from a counter to the table. Many plates designed for seniors are made of plastic which is sturdy and hard to break. This is a big help if your plate tends to move a lot and even falls off the table while you’re eating. Even if you do drop the plate, at least you won’t risk injury or even a fall by picking shards of ceramic off the floor. This is an important part of kitchen safety for elders.
So, what’s the verdict? For most situations, plastic plates are probably best.
Plates with Walls
Some seniors have trouble picking up food off of a plate. They chase it with their fork and often push it off the edge of the plate. This is not where you want your food of course. And, it causes a mess that has to be cleaned up.
There are a variety of plates that can help with this issue. The most basic walled plate has raised edges to keep the food on the plate. This is very helpful if you’re eating foods like pasta. Or, if you are the type that likes to mix foods together. These walls won’t totally prevent the food from falling onto the table. But, they are a big help for picking up slippery or awkward foods.
Scoop Bowls and Plates
There are also aids called scoop bowls and scoop plates. These have a high raised edge on half the plate. But, the front of the plate is lower. This type of plate helps elderly people scoop the food onto their fork or spoon by pushing it towards the back. Having the open front makes it easier to use too.
Here are some of my recommendations for high-walled scoop plates for elderly and seniors:
Sammons Preston Hi-Lo Scoop Plate, 9" Scooped Dish with Wall, Non-Slip ADL Eating Aid for Children, Elderly, Disabled, Non Skid Cutlery Assistance Device for Motor Control, Scooper Bowl
- Ergonomic plate design meant to assist individuals in guiding food onto utensils with the help of the curved wall
- Features a 1 1/2" vertical wall that helps guide food onto utensils, entry wall is 1/2" high and steadily increases upward with 3/4" rim for easy handling
This plate has all my suggestions for improving independent eating for seniors. It has a high edge to help with getting food on the utensil. This also prevents a mess by keeping the food on the plate. It is also large enough to get an adult sized portion of food on the plate. Also, unbreakable and dishwasher safe!
Scooper Bowl with Silicone Placemat Suction Base - Non-Skid - No Spill - Food Grade Silicone - Dishwasher and Microwave Safe - 33.8oz Large-Capacity Bowl by Modaliv
- EAT INDEPENDENTLY - Designed for people with limited mobility, your scooper bowl features a high rim and contoured lip. Making it easy for you to eat one-handed without spilling your food.
- STRONG SUCTION THAT LASTS - No more non-slip pads or suction cup feet that slide and lose their grip. Your scooper bowl and silicone placemat will secure to your table, stopping the bowl from tipping, moving, and spilling.
- SAVE TIME CLEANING - One-piece placemat & suction bowl makes your life easier by containing any mess. It’s dishwasher safe, so just pop it in; sit back and relax.
- GET ADULT PORTIONS - The large capacity bowl (34oz) allows you to serve and eat adult sized meals.
- FOOD GRADE MATERIALS - Made from food grade silicone, it’s 100% BPA, PVC, lead, and phthalate free. You can rest easy knowing you’re enjoying your meals safe from nasty toxins.
This is another of my recommended scooper bowls. This one has the added bonus of a silicone mat. The mat keeps the bowl from moving while the elderly person is eating. This makes it easier for the senior and could prevent a mess too. It is microwave and dishwasher safe too.
Essential Medical Supply Power of Red Complete Table Setting
- Designed for users with Alzheimer's and Dementia
- Studies have shown that red dinnerware increases eating
- Will also benefit users with decreased motor skills
- Includes scoop bowl, scoop dish, nose cut out cup, bendable utensils and rocker knife
If you would like to have a once and done solution for helping elderly people eat, here it is. This complete table setting has all the products needed to serve and consume a full meal. While I don’t know if I subscribe to the whole red plate theory, I do know that this set is very helpful regardless of the color.
Plates with Sections
You can also get plates that have partitioned compartments to keep different foods separate. For some, this option is a little more difficult to use. Your spoon will constantly be running into the raised edges. But, these plates are a good choice if you want to keep your foods separate. This is the case for elderly people who have to eat soft or pureed foods. They are also useful for people who have vision problems. Each type of food is kept separate from the others and easy to find.
Here are my recommended plates with high walls and sections:
North Coast Medical NC35699 GripWare Partitioned Scoop Dish
- Plate is dishwasher safe.
- Made of Melamine and should not be microwaved.
This partitioned plate also has non skid feet on the bottom to keep the plate from moving. Like I’ve discussed this is important for reducing messes and helping to keep the food on the plate. The section walls are helpful for people with moderate problems. But, people with severe challenges will probably need a deeper plate like the one below.
Maddak SP Ableware Sandstone Partitioned Scoop Dish with Lid
- Sandstone partitioned dish with three compartments for keeping food separated
- 1-1/2-inch deep walls for scooping food onto forks and spoons
- Stackable with clear, plastic cover for transporting and storing food
- Dishwasher and microwave safe for ease of use
- Measures 8-1/4” in diameter, with capacities of 6.75 oz. (small sections), and 12.6 oz. (large section)
This sectioned plate has nice, deep walls that are an 1-1/2″ high. This ought to really help keep food where it belongs. Even for elderly with more advanced needs. It also has a lid for storing foods for later or preparing meals in advance. Remove the lid and pop in the microwave for an easy meal. Also, dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Sometimes it’s not just the food that ends up all over the place. Tremors may cause the plate itself may skid across the table. This is a very slow and tiring way to eat. Weighted plates help because they are heavier than normal plates. They are also usually made of a thicker material and insulated to keep the food warm. They are also a good option for seniors who have less control over their hands and end up pushing plates off the table. However, weight plates are heavier and may not be a good choice for seniors who do their own cleanup or have the carry their plates.
There are other options for skid-free plates. Some have rubber patches on the bottom. Others use silicone mats in combination with a rubberized bottom. The Scooper Bowl above is my favorite non-slip plate and it uses this system.
Another good option to try is plates or bowls that have suction cup bases. Especially when you need an aggressive solution to moving plates. These “stick” in one location to help ensure your plate stays where you want it. These may be a better option than weighted plates. They are lighter and easier to pick up and clean.
Scoop Plate with Suction Pad
- Scoop Plate with Suction Pad is a practical and revolutionary solution for people with disabilities who have difficulty eating due to the movement of the dinnerware.
- Perfect for Wheelchair trays, over-bed tables, and flat table tops
- These Freedom Dinnerware dishes were designed for people with hand tremors, paralysis, Parkinson's disease, arthritis or uncontrolled movement and disabilities that that restrict hand movement necessary for eating independently
- Dishwasher Safe, Microwave Safe Dish and Unbreakable
- Hit it! …Bump it! … Push it! ..... It will not move or tip over!
This eating aid combines the function of a scoop plate with the reduced movement of a suction cup. It is an ideal solution for people with tremors or spasticity from Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, or paralysis from a stroke. The food may be get mixed together while using it if this is an issue. Dishwasher and microwave safe.
Getting older is difficult. Many of the basic activities of life that you once did so easily become harder. And, now, you must accept more help with day to day activities. It’s important to accept the help you need. It is important to continue your regular eating pattern. This will both improve your life and keep you stay safe and healthy.
But, it’s also important to stay as independent as you can. Tools like special plates for elderly people allow you to perform normal everyday activities. Preparing foods may be simpler by using lightweight pots and pans. Sometimes, a nice easy to use microwave is better for cooking. These devices help you work around your limitations. If eating from a standard plate is causing you trouble, try some of these options. If spills are happening from drinking, check out these spill-proof cups and lightweight coffee cups for seniors. They might just give you the help you need while still allowing you to maintain your independence.
Do you have any other suggestions on how seniors and elders to make feeding easier? Or even safer? Your suggestions are welcome in the comments below. Questions, of course, are welcome too!