Dementia is a syndrome that currently affects 35.6 million people worldwide. It can impact memory, thinking, behavior and interfere with everyday tasks.
One the most difficult tasks for many people with dementia is something we don't think twice about: eating.
You've probably never sat down to a meal with the expectation of cups filled with beverages knocking over, food spilling all over the place or experiencing difficulty spooning your food.
For people with dementia, this can be an everyday occurrence. It's difficult for them and their caregivers.
Families eat together to chat, reconnect and enjoy each other's company. But, when a member of the family has Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia, mealtime can easily become more stressful than enjoyable.
San Francisco Academy of Art graduate Sha Yao is trying to change that.
Yao's late grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s.
"Every time when I saw her suffer, I wish I could do something to help her have a better quality of life," Yao says in an Indiegogo campaign video.
So, Yao started volunteering in adult day care centers to learn more about Alzheimer's. She soon realized that many of the people with dementia she met had issues similar to her grandmother when it came to eating.
That's why she decided to develop EatWell, a tableware set that uses bright colors and innovative design to make mealtime for people with dementia easier. There are 21 unique features in each set.
The EatWell tableware set was designed with three goals in mind. Yao wanted to help people with dementia to increase their food and drink intake for better health and nutrition, maintain their dignity and independence during meals and reduce the burden so many caregivers face.
So what makes this tableware so special?
1. Slanted bowls with right angles
People with dementia often eat less than they should and are prone to spilling their food.
EatWell bowls have slanted bottoms to make food gather in one end. The sides of the bowls are made at right angles, to make scooping food easier and prevent it from spilling.
2. Curved spoons
The spoons are designed with curved handles to make scooping easier. They also have stainless steel heads that perfectly match the curvature of the bowl.
3. Colorful tableware
People with dementia can often get confused when the food they are eating is similar in color to the plate they're eating from. Yao discovered a Boston University study from 2004 that found that someone with Alzheimer's disease will eat 24 percent more food and 84 percent more liquid if they're using brightly colored tableware. Armed with that information, she designed all of her EatWell products with bright shades of blue, red and yellow.
4. Anti-slip materials
All of the tableware is equipped with anti-slip material on the bottom to prevent slipping or sliding. That helps to prevent spills and give extra stability to the user.
5. Slots for napkins
The tray that comes with the set has a two slots that napkins can be attached so that if any food is dropped, it doesn't cause clothing stains. It also makes for super-easy cleanup.
Watch Yao describe the importance of EatWell below:
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