Eating when someone has arthritis and low vision

Almost all of our patients have both vision loss and some other significant physical challenge. A common situation we see is when the patient has lost some vision and also has significant arthritis in their hands. We believe that dealing with the arthritis is made much more difficult when there is vision loss. A very real challenge for people who have arthritis is eating. 

It is easy to imagine that seeing the food on the plate is a difficult for someone who has low vision. The additional challenge of the arthritis can make using utensils and the act of eating itself almost impossible. Fortunately, there is some very useful adaptive equipment that makes eating much easier. There are specially designed eating utensils which have handles that are built up to make them easier to grasp. These modified eating utensils sell for about $15 for each utensil. Another similar approach is to buy a set of four built up handles ($20) that have openings where standard eating utensils can be inserted. We also use utensils to pick up or scoop food when we eat. These basic eating tasks can be very difficult for someone who has low vision and arthritis. Another type of adaptive equipment, a plate guard, makes this much easier to do. The plate guard ($11) clips around the outside edge of the plate. Food is pushed up against the plate guard, will stay on forks and spoons. 

Yes, having both vision loss and arthritis can make simple tasks like eating almost impossible. However, teaching of different strategies and using some inexpensive adaptive equipment can make eating much easier. Perhaps more importantly, these strategies offer low vision patients increased independence and dignity.