How Can Drinking Aids Help?
The term 'drinking aids' covers a wealth of products, some of which are designed to help people who may be temporarily or permanently immobilised - e.g. as a result of an injury, a stroke or some longer term condition - but who need to be able to take a drink without the need for a carer's assistance.
Others are designed to help people who, perhaps due to injury or a condition such as arthritis, lack the strength, dexterity or muscle control to drink from an ordinary cup. For such people, ease of control and the prevention of spills are important concerns. Safety, too, is a vital consideration, so manufacturers have devised numerous ways of helping people to prepare hot drinks whilst minimising the risks of accidents. More information about each of these broad categories is provided below.
For anyone who suffers from immobility or restricted use of their arms, drinking is made easier by the use of specialist drinking bottles. Designed to be attached to a bed frame, a wheelchair or some similarly convenient base, they generally incorporate a long flexible tube and non-drip valve that allows the user to take a drink by sucking gently on the mouthpiece. Look for tubes that have clips that allow them to be attached to clothing (so that they are always easy to retrieve) and for a lid that makes it easy to refill. Another useful feature - particularly for people who may be more susceptible to infection - is an antibacterial cleaning kit that keeps the whole system clean and safe.
Drinking Cups and One-way Straws
Many drinking cups are available with detachable lids and non-spill spouts. The key features to consider are the size and weight of the vessel - ensuring that it is not too heavy when full - and the handle design. A large, two-handled cup is often much easier to grasp and control than an ordinary cup and some even have specially angled or adjustable handles that can be tailored to the user's grasp. Sturdy plastic designs will be less prone to damage if they are dropped, but make sure that all surfaces are free from joints and easy to keep clean. Finally, note that some cups and mugs come with extra features, such as interchangeable spouts that can be used with drinks or chunky soups, or temperature sensitive materials that warn the user if the contents are hot. A simple accessory that also helps to prevent spills is the one-way straw, which has a non-return valve that delivers an easy drink without the need to suck hard every time.
The kitchen can be a dangerous place for people with weak or unsteady hands, and a kettle tipper can be one way of reducing the risks. Designed to take most of the weight of the kettle, the tipper enables liquid to be poured with a smooth, steady motion. An alternative to consider might be a two-handled kettle.
Hot Drink Pots and Dispensers
Another safety aid is the hot drink dispenser, which, once filled, keeps drinks hot and allows liquid to be dispensed safely and at a very controlled speed. Designed like a vacuum flask, these dispensers should be sturdy, easy to grasp and capable of keeping drinks hot for up to 4 hours.