Cards

Gripping News

What do a four-year-old child and a 74-year-old pensioner have in common? It's grip strength, which lessens with age. For example, a typical male loses 25% of his maximum grip strength by the time he reaches his mid-50s.

Loss of physical strength and dexterity can often mean that turning door keys, writing a letter, preparing food or even pouring a cup of tea can be a major challenge.

In addition, thousands of people require hospital treatment each year after injuring themselves opening difficult packaging and many suffer wrist strain as they try to prise the lids off jam jars. Many over the age of 50 have health conditions related to the ageing process, which makes it even more difficult for them to cope with problematic packaging and other household tasks. The most common handicap is arthritis, but the elderly are also frequently further handicapped by impaired sight, failing muscles and loss of feeling in fingers and thumbs.

There are clearly many packaging design issues that need to be addressed by manufacturers, particularly with packs that require fine manipulation and high levels of grip force, but there are many low cost solutions available today capable of tackling this problem.

Multi-functional openers with ergonomic handles can make the opening of packs a lot easier and safer including the removal of aluminium can tabs and the notoriously tricky twist off pressure sealed caps.

Other common household tasks can also be made easier by selecting an appropriate device or aid.

Lifting and pouring a kettle full of hot water can, for example, be a difficult and dangerous task to someone with poor grip strength. This however is easily remedied by using a kettle tipper or pourer. A kettle tipper holds the kettle in a cradle and pivots on a raised wire frame. Gentle pressure on the handle allows the liquid to pour safely into the cup.

Meal times can also be very difficult for people with dexterity or mobility problems. A simple strap attached to the utensil, that allows the hand to slip through the loop, will provide the necessary stability and support whilst eating.

For those who have difficulty writing, light touch pens are designed to write with almost no pressure. The pen has a built-up and textured surface that makes it easier to hold than a regular pen and is ideal for use by those with minimal grip or strength.