The kitchen is the heart of most homes, and when accessibility, sensory, or mobility issues come into play, it can make kitchen activities much more difficult. There are so many features available for kitchens that make them safe for seniors. Having a kitchen that you can use as you age is an important part of maintaining your independence, and there are big and small augmentations you can make to make it so. We’ve gathered our top recommendations for keeping your kitchen safe and accessible.
ADA approved floor surfaces must be stable, firm, and slip-resistant. This doesn’t mean hardwood floors are ruled out. Non-slip rugs that are firmly stuck to the ground can be a unique and stylish way to make your kitchen safer. Non-slip flooring can actually add interest to your kitchen. The above non-slip tile stickers are used in a bathroom, but they can make an interesting addition to the kitchen as well.
An Automatic Stove Shutoff
For those with cognitive issues, a stove that shuts off automatically can bring you significant peace of mind. Even though leaving the stove is not a likely cause of a fire, it is one of the most common ways that seniors injure themselves. An automatic stove shutoff turns the stove off if no motion has been detected in the kitchen for three hours. This kind of feature is especially important for seniors who are suffering from cognitive problems and can be crucial to avoid dangerous burns or other heat-related accidents. An added bonus for this tool is that you can remote-monitor the stove and shut it off if you’ve forgotten it on at home.
An induction Cooktop
Induction cooktops are one of the safest ways to cook in your kitchen. Induction cooking works by electrical induction instead of thermal, making this method of cooking more efficient and also safer for seniors, with one major caveat. If you have a pacemaker, this cooktop is unsafe. Induction cooktops work best for seniors whose issues are more cognitive or mobile. If you have any kind of mechanism surgically implanted, check with your doctor before installing this kind of cooktop.
Lighting Directed At Workspaces
Regular kitchen lighting can actually cast shadows over workspaces, especially if cabinets are wide. Having adequate lighting directly over workspaces is one of the most helpful ways to avoid cooking accidents, especially as vision declines.
Wide Maneuvering Space
If you have any sort of mobility aide, you’ll know that having enough space to move around the kitchen is often one of the biggest cooking challenges. If your kitchen currently has an island, make sure that it’s wide enough to move through with a wheelchair (32 inches wide).
Counters At Various Heights
Making your kitchen accessible means that it will work for you through different stages of your life. Having different heights of countertops is a great way to make your kitchen multi-functional. Even if you don’t use a mobility aide, having the option to sit while you cook is something that may appeal to you more and more as you age.
A Low Microwave
In many kitchens, the microwave is a side-opened mechanism that sits above the oven or on its own on the counter. Having a microwave that sits over the oven makes it difficult to put things in and take things out and presents a potential hot-food hazard, while countertop models can take up space and are more likely to cause accidents. Microwaves that slide open are more easily accessible for seniors with mobility issues of any kind and provide a safe and simple way to heat up your food.
Maneuverable cabinets are a substantial undertaking for any renovation, however, if you can make the move to maneuverable cabinets, the convenience and ability to see everything in your kitchen without having to get onto a stool can make your kitchen much more functional and allows you to use all the storage available in your kitchen.
Having a kitchen that works for you is one of the most important ways to make sure that your home is accessible. Being able to cook and clean for yourself effectively allows you to have a much more independent lifestyle as you age. For more information regarding accessible kitchens, check out the IA Checklist.