Homeowner's Academy

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Kitchen Safety for Seniors

by BROOKE GOLD HASSON | Aug 08, 2014

senior-kitchen-225x300Let’s Create a Safe Space for All of Our Great Cooks

Kitchen safety is a major concern for today’s seniors and it’s the second-most important room to have precautions and care in place. Kitchens present dangers to everyone, and these increase as we age and our abilities to move about safely diminish.

Seniors and their support network should take the time and preparation it requires to work on the kitchen and make it a great environment for cooking, talking, and enjoying. Caregivers may need to check on some of these issues, but the ultimate design and changes to a kitchen should be made so that a senior can use the space easily and effectively.

The following home safety tips can make a big difference in the lives of seniors as they continue to live in their homes and go about their day in a safe manner.

Appliances

One of the key factors with appliances is that they should be properly maintained and checked to be in working order. If possible, set a schedule to review your appliances at least once a year.

Other appliance safety tips include:

  • Ensure that gas ranges have a pilot light, automatic shut-off, and properly vent to the outside of the home.
  • Purchase an oven where all controls are on the front so you never need to reach over a burner to make an adjustment.
  • Make sure all ranges are away from other appliances and objects, such as curtains or artwork.
  • Position appliances so they are easy to unplug and are away from the sink.
  • If possible, raise the height of the dishwasher to reduce the need to bend down with heavy dishes.
  • Set the water-heater temperature at 120°F to avoid burns.
  • Use an electric kettle to avoid fire dangers.
  • If possible, use a fridge that has the freezer on the bottom.
  • Use the microwave to defrost meats before cooking.
  • Have an easy-to-use fire extinguisher handy.

Work Spaces and Storage

There are always lots of goodies, utensils, containers, and ingredients in the kitchen. For seniors, all of these need to be easy to reach without climbing any step stools or ladders. Some of the top ideas for improving the workspace and storage in a senior-friendly kitchen include:

  • Provide a lot of counter space and keep commonly used items on the counter.
  • Install a lever-handle faucet.
  • Add pullout shelves to low cabinets to reduce the need to bend over to reach things at the back of the cabinet.
  • Install pull-down shelves for upper cabinets to reduce the need for reaching. These can be installed by you or professionally.
  • Install “D” shaped pull handles to make opening cabinets easy.
  • Install a Lazy Susan (swivel plate) in corner cabinets.
  • Leave the space underneath the sink open and consider installing a shallow sink. This will allow someone to sit in a chair or wheelchair and still comfortably use the sink.

Lighting

As we age, we need more light to be able to see but we also have more problems with reflections and glare. Here are some top tips to make the lighting in your kitchen more senior-friendly.

  • Install night lights that automatically illuminate when it is dark.
  • Remove as many shiny work surfaces as possible and opt for brighter-colored counter tops.
  • Make sure that work spaces, the sink, and the oven range all have plenty of overhead light.
  • Install light switches near each door into the kitchen and keep the switch order the same. You can also use larger switches for the main overhead lights.

Extra Help

There are lots of little things we can do to make the kitchen even safer as we work in it and use it in our daily lives.

Some of these may be brand new thoughts to us that arise just for safety sake, such as storing cleaning materials and flammable liquids elsewhere. Many of us keep cleaners in the kitchen, but as we age we tend to spill more. This becomes more dangerous with harsh chemicals and those that are flammable because it also gets harder to clean up.

Cleanliness and attention are essential to good cooking safety.

Other helpful tips for your kitchen include:

  • Install non-slip flooring that easily shows dirt.
  • Add an extra trashcan and disconnect the garbage disposal.
  • Remove the classic “junk drawer” because its contents may become dangerous.
  • Avoid wearing very loose fitting or handing clothing.
  • Use a knife block that is easy to reach and store.
  • Make sure the AC works properly in the kitchen.
  • Keep a collection of pot holders and hot pads near the stove itself. Opt for the silicon items because they provide extra grip and heat protection plus are less likely to catch fire than cloth holders.

There are many things we can do for the seniors in our lives to make their days easier and more enjoyable. We hope these tips help you have a safe and happy home.

This Blog is sponsored by:
People’s Trust Insurance Company