Aging creates so many “new normals.” Even routine
activities such as cooking may become challenging for your loved one. Balance
issues can make reaching, bending, or lifting a problem. Arthritis often makes
it difficult to maneuver pans and tools, turn on a faucet, or twist off lids.
Extreme fatigue may sap overall motivation. And problems with memory increase
the risk of a kitchen fire.
Consider these revisions to create an age-friendly kitchen.
- Stoves. Choose a stove with continuous grates
(for gas) or a flat surface so that pots can be moved off the burner without
lifting. And look for stove controls that face the front so your loved one is
not reaching over hot pots to change settings. If memory is a concern, add an
automatic stove shut-off sensor. (If there is no movement around the stove for
15 minutes or so, the device shuts off all burners.)
- Microwaves. Countertop rather than overhead
placement makes access safe and easy.
- Sinks and faucets. Install a single-handle faucet to make
it easier for those with arthritis. You might even consider a faucet with
sensors at its base to turn the water on and off. If possible, position a sink
with a hose sprayer near the cooking area so a pot can be filled in place on
the stove with no need for lifting.
- Cabinets. Place
frequently used items and heavy items within comfortable reach to reduce
bending. Install lazy susans and pullout shelving for easier access. Use
“loop” pulls or long “D-shaped” handles rather than knobs
for cabinet doors.
- Countertops. Include
lighting under cabinets to compensate for shadows cast by overhead fixtures.
Create countertops at several heights with knee space underneath to permit use
as a seated workstation if need be.
Look for a side-by-side model rather than top-and-bottom. Include
pullout drawers and shelves to minimize reaching and bending.
Does a remodel seem in order?
If the person you care for wants to continue living independently, a kitchen remodel might be a wise choice. As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates have seen that sometimes even simple changes or rearrangements can make a world of difference. If you follow principles of “universal design,” the layout will be easier for everyone, not just a person with physical challenges. Let’s start the conversation. Give us a call at 301-593-5285 to discuss a home assessment.