The kitchen can be an intimidating place for seniors with decreased mobility. These changes to your loved one’s home can help give the kitchen new life and bring back the joy of cooking.
Commonly eaten food should be stored on a level that best suits your senior. This may be different for each individual depending on their mobility restrictions. Refrigerator space that is harder for the elderly to reach can be used to store items used only sparingly or food eaten by others living in the home.
Much like the refrigerator, the pantry should be reorganized to best suit your loved one’s reach. Many built in cabinet systems give the ability to move shelves up and down to create a more custom organization system. Changing the height and location of these shelves may greatly increase your loved one’s ability to reach their own food.
Pots and pans along with mixing bowls and other items necessary to make your senior’s favorite meals should be relocated to be within their reach. This may involve simply moving pots and pans from one cabinet to another or the installation of a pot rack for easier access. Pull-out shelves can be also installed in many preexisting cabinets to maximize space. These can eliminate the need for reaching into the back of cabinets and make finding things easier.
Because age often brings forgetfulness, seniors may forget to turn the stove or oven off after use. If this is the case in your situation, try to discourage the use of these heating elements when your loved one is home alone. Using the microwave or toaster which turns itself off can be a much safer option.
If your senior enjoys cooking and wants to use the stove or oven, make sure to take precautions. Some ovens can be set to automatically turn off after a certain amount of time. If this is an option on their oven, ensure that your loved one knows how to use this function. Several different devices can also be purchased separately from the oven which will automatically turn the stove or oven off. These devices utilize various types of technology and should be chosen to best suit your situation.
If your loved one will often be cooking for themselves in the microwave, be sure to place the microwave at a level which they can easily reach. This may involve removing the microwave from a shelf and placing it directly on the counter.
If your loved one has trouble hearing, seeing, or setting the timer on a heating element, purchase a separate timer. Make sure this timer can easily be set and heard and can be taken with them to other rooms in the home.
Small knobs on drawers and cabinet doors should be replaced with larger, easy to use handles. If cabinets and drawers are currently void of hardware and require your loved one to grab onto the door itself, consider installing handles to increase ease of access for all individuals.
Visibility is an important aspect of navigating the kitchen. Ensure that there is adequate overhead lighting and that lights in the refrigerator, oven, and range hood are checked regularly for proper function.
A wide range of adaptive kitchen utensils can be purchased for seniors. These items are designed for easy grip and safe use, and can replace or accompany currently owned utensils.
Making these small changes in the kitchen can help elderly loved ones to easily and safely prepare their own meals, significantly increasing their independence and quality of life.