Designer Creates Tableware to Help People With Dementia /

When designer Sha Yao’s grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she saw firsthand how the disease, and other neurodegenerative ones like it, can turn even the most basic tasks into seemingly-impossible feats.

With that in mind, Yao designed Eatwell, a seven-piece tableware set with 20 unique features specifically designed to meet the needs of those with physical, motor, and cognitive impairments. Yao exceeded her fundraising goal on Indiegogo last year and her designs won the top prize at the 2014 Stanford Design Challenge.  

The set has bright, primary colors, which Yao chose because of a Boston University study that found that individuals with cognitive impairment consumed 24% more food and 84% more liquid when they were in brightly-colored containers.

Other features include bowls and cups with angled bases, allowing contents to naturally fall to one side (making them easier to scoop and drink), as well as ergonomically-designed spoons whose curvature aligns with the contours of the bowls. There are also holes with flaps at the edge of the tray where an apron, bib, or napkin can be tucked to prevent spill damage, plus wide-base drinkware that’s difficult to topple. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, around 5.3 million Americans today have Alzheimer’s. An estimated 47.5 million people have dementia worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and that number is only on the rise, making the need for innovations like Yao’s greater than ever.

At the heart of the efficiency and cleverness of the design is the basic desire to help people help themselves, which is especially personal for Yao.

"Raising awareness and addressing the needs of people with impairments will allow them to maintain their dignity, retain as much independence as possible, and reduce the burden on their caretakers," she told Fast Company. "That's what made designing the Eatwell tableware set so rewarding."

To see more of the set, swing over to the official website, or view Yao's fundraising video below.