THE MEAL LIFTERCategory:
Several years ago, we invited our family to a 90th birthday celebration for my mother-in-law. I had fixed her favorite meal and was surprised when she quietly sat and didn’t eat. When I asked if she was alright, she whispered that because of Parkinson’s and her associated tremors, she was no longer able to raise her arm without food falling off the utensil and on to her clothing, causing her great embarrassment.
To temporarily remedy the situation, I stacked several books below her dinner plate, which allowed her to pivot on her elbow from plate to mouth without lifting her arm. It worked extremely well, and subsequently, we created a prototype that she took with her to meals at her senior living facility. Ultimately, the prototype allowed her to remain in independent living longer than her condition would have otherwise permitted.
Over the course of using the prototype, several other residents and nursing staff inquired if the device was commercially available. After extensive research, we discovered that no one had ever offered this type of eating aid. With the express desire of helping individuals eat independently, we experimented with various sizes and configurations, and eventually created a device that we trademarked and patented as the “Meal Lifter.”
We presented the device to Direct Supply, the largest distributor of equipment to the senior housing market, and they agreed to sell Meal Lifters commercially through their catalog. We also offer the devices through our website: www.meallifter.com.
In visiting with the Alzheimer’s Foundation, we learned that dementia patients often have a limited field of vision, and are unable to see their dinner plate. By raising the plate (preferably red) with the Meal Lifter, they can more easily see the food and feed themselves. Further, by wrapping one arm around the device, they have greater control, comfort, and confidence while eating.
Based on the support and encouragement we’ve received from the local Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s organizations, the Michael J. Fox Research Team, as well as senior housing operators, neurologists, rheumatologists, physical and occupational therapists, we expect the Meal Lifter will become a new paradigm for those who have difficulty eating.
What began as an altruistic endeavor has now become a business enterprise grounded in our philosophy of assisting individuals in eating with Greater Ease and Dignity.
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