30 Days of Parkinson’s: Creating a Device to Lift Up Mealtimes

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30 Days of Parkinson's

Photo courtesy of Anne Royer

Day 13 of 30

This is Anne Royer’s story:

Several years ago, we invited our family to a 90th birthday celebration for my mother-in-law, Mary. I had prepared her favorite meal, and I became concerned when she sat quietly and didn’t eat. When I asked if she was alright, she quietly whispered that because of her Parkinson’s and the associated tremors and weakness, she was no longer able to raise her arm without food falling off the utensil and onto her clothing, causing her great embarrassment. 

To temporarily remedy the situation, I stacked several books below the dinner plate, which allowed her to pivot on her elbow without lifting her arm. It worked extremely well, and subsequently, we created a wooden prototype that she carried on her walker to meals at her senior living facility. Ultimately, the prototype allowed her to remain in independent living for a longer period of time.

Over the course of using the prototype, several other residents and nursing staff inquired if the device was commercially available. With that encouragement and the express desire of helping seniors eat independently, we experimented with various sizes, shapes, heights, and configurations, and eventually created and patented the Meal Lifter. The device is now sold online.

This altruistic endeavor has been an extremely rewarding experience for my husband and me, enabling us to help so many individuals dine with greater ease and dignity.   

Parkinson’s News Today’s 30 Days of Parkinson’s campaign will publish one story per day for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPAR, or go here to see the full series. 

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