Sha Yao’s late grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and watching her deterioration was heartbreaking. But instead of losing hope, Yao decided to set to work on something that was critical to her health, assistive tableware.
Many Alzheimer’s patients have trouble eating because food is often spilled on the floor or their clothes. Yao began her research after coming across a Boston University study that discovered dementia patients were more likely to eat food and drink beverage based on a very simple concept: bright colors. After a couple of years of extensive Alzheimer’s research and observation, Yao created Eatwell, an indiegogo-funded campaign that makes tableware designed for patients with cognitive impairments. The tableware features color contrast between the inside and outside of the bowls, making it easier to distinguish food from the bowl – often an issue for patients who use white plates and become confused.
The bowls also have a slanted basin so food collects at the bottom of the bowl and makes it easier to scoop against the bowls’ edges. Spoons are designed so as to fit the curve of the bowls precisely, and they also fit the natural curve of the hand. Yao tested the design at assisted living facilities, won the 2014 Stanford Design Challenge, and is now preparing for distribution to caregivers. Take a look at Yao’s inspiring story and the subsequent launch of Eatwell in the video below!