People with cognitive and sensory impairments like Alzheimer's and denmentia often have difficulty in eating. They commonly spill their food which makes them to eat less out of frustration.
Yao was tired of seeing her grandmother who had Alzheimer's eat less frequently. So she found a solution by developing a new range of dinnerware that helps people like her grandmother to eat independendly.
"For many families, meals are a time for sharing and reconnecting, and enjoying each others company. When the disease affects one member of a family, the mealtime experience can become stressful and challenges are created for both caregivers and their loved ones," said Yao, an industrial designer from Taiwan.
EatWell is an 8-piece dining set that fosters mealtime independence for people with dementia. It took her 4 years on research and development to create this product.The product has 20 distinct features that even helps care givers by lessening their burden.
The bowls are designed with slanted bottoms that help food collect to one side for easy scooping and the interior is in bright blue color that helps in easy identification of food for the users. Spoons are intentionally designed to hug the side for collecting food easily and for preventing spillage. Handles for drinking cups and utensils are made for easy gripping and stability.
According to Boston University research, the dining set allows users with dementia to consume 24% more food and 84% more liquid.
"Since [people with dementia] have a completely different set of abilities than I do, I realized that I need to become very knowledgeable about the disease before I could really even begin to design something for them," she said.
Yao volunteered at senior care centers in San Francisco to identify the needs of people with dementia and also their caregivers. Eatwell won first place at the 2014 Stanford Design Challenge, beating out of 52 teams representing 15 different countries.