Cutlery following chemotherapy: What utensils can help my client who is experiencing weakness and tremor following chemotherapy?

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What utensils can help my client who is experiencing weakness and tremor following chemotherapy?

Question

I have a client who, due to chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, presents weakness and a resting tremor in his hands, which makes eating with utensils more difficult. What are some types of utensils or strategies to assist with these problems? In other words, how can he successfully get the food from plate to mouth? He does fine with finger foods, it's just those requiring a utensil that are more challenging.

Our answer

Hand weakness and tremors certainly can make holding and moving cutlery very difficult for people with tremors and weakness. Thankfully, there are a number of products on the market designed to address these concerns – many of them quite reasonably priced.

One of the most common solutions in these types of situations are utensils with easy-to-grip handles. The weighted versions of these tools can be particularly helpful to people with tremors by acting as a counterbalance – though some prefer the non-weighted versions. Here are examples of each:

Weighted cutlery

  • Weighted Utensils by Sammons Preston (at Amazon), which sells for about $17 to $27 (Cdn) each, plus shipping.
  • Good Grips Weighted & Bendable Utensils (at Amazon). Six ounces of added weight in the built-up handle provides more control so that the utensil reaches the mouth easier. About $23 (Cdn) plus shipping per utensil.

Non-weighted, non-slipping cutlery

  • A popular non-weighted option is the 4-Piece Kitchen Set of Adaptive Utensils (at Amazon), which sells for about $14 (Cdn) plus shipping.
  • Another approach is to use a clip or band that attaches any piece of cutlery to a person’s hand, such as Clip-On Cutlery (at 2Care4), which sells for about $23 (Cdn) plus shipping.
  • Another simple solution when gripping the utensil is a problem is a 6-Pack of Foam Grip Tubing (at Amazon), where you can slip on foam tube handle to almost any piece of cutlery. These sell for $10 (Cdn) plus shipping.

To avoid spilling

  • Covered Spoon (at 2Care4). For eating soup and easy-to-spill foods, some people benefit from using a partially covered spoon. The lid covers about two-thirds of the spoon, limiting the amount of spillage. Costs about $18 (Cdn) for two spoons.
  • “Scooper” bowls and plates, which have rounded edges also help make it easier for the person with tremor to get the food onto their cutlery. Here’s an example: the Scoop Dish (at SeniorsStore.ca), which sells for about $18 (Cdn) plus shipping.

Some technologies and devices may require an in-person assessment. Speak with your health care provider for additional information and support. 

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