Kitchen Safety for Seniors
Kitchen Safety for Seniors.
Keep seniors safe with these kitchen safety tips
Independence is the little secret of longevity. Seniors being able to remain in their own homes as they age has a multitude of perks.
Elderly home safety works in tandem with longevity—the safer your elderly parents are in their own homes, the longer they have on this earth. One room that's particularly hazardous for seniors is the kitchen. Seniors and their families, plus their in-home senior care provider should follow as many of these kitchen safety tips to minimize falls or accidents.
- Cooking fires are the most common cause of house fires and house injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Agency, so never leave the kitchen unattended while cooking. Try to avoid appliances, like coffee makers, that automatically begin cooking.
- When cooking, all pots and pan handles should face the back of the stove to prevent an accidental upset.
- Move any items seniors use most out of the highest and lowest cabinets and shelves, and into easily reachable cabinets and drawers. Consider installing pullout drawers for bottom cabinets to limit the amount of bending seniors have to do.
- Make sure any knives and sharp utensils are secure in their storage area.
- Keep countertops clear and uncluttered.
- Close all drawers and cabinets when after using them.
- Make sure any area rugs are secured to the floor with double-stick tape to prevent falls.
Replace light switches with rocker light switches that work for the whole hand and take less effort than traditional controls.
Replace old light bulbs with LED lights to remove the harsh light that can be hard on seniors' eyes.
Install task lighting below upper cabinets, workspaces, over the sink and stove, and in storage areas. (You can use plug-ins and battery-powered lights.)
Another idea is to install a plug-in motion detection light in the kitchen to save money on adding another light switch to the wall. Motion detection lights make good night lights too.
Make storage more accessible
One kitchen upgrade that doesn't cost anything is the rearrangement of kitchen items.
Keep daily-use items such as cookware in lower cabinets that are easier to reach from a wheelchair. Even if you don' wheelchair isn't being used, place those items between waist and shoulder height. Adding pullout boards can help with heavy items.
Lazy susan trays, slide shelving, and pull-down shelves are available at any home store. They each make it easier for seniors to pull shelves toward them instead of crouching down to search inside a lower cabinet or using a step stool to reach a higher cabinet or shelf.
Make drawer handles easier to use
Replace round pull knobs with wide drawer pulls. Also, consider a touch drawer system where the door pops open from a little push.
Replace the kitchen faucet
Update twist knobs with lever-style fixtures to make using the faucet easier. Better than lever-style fixtures are the motion-sensor faucets as they eliminate the need to grip. Plus, they have the bonus of never forgetting to turn the water off.
As mentioned in our bathroom safety section, consider the very inexpensive LED faucet adapter that identifies the water temperature by color to eliminate burns.
Use red nail polish to mark the "off" position on the stove knob. It makes it easier for your senior to see the off button.
Are the kitchen countertops too high?
While replacing the countertops to adjust for height is a significant project, and costly too, consider buying a work table with the appropriate height to have in the kitchen for the senior to work on efficiently.
Anti Slip Flooring
Anti-slip flooring helps decrease the possibility of slipping and falling. We all know that falls are a genuine danger for our aging parents and loved ones. The consequences of a fall can be devastating.
Senior-friendly smoke alarms and fire extinguisher
Install fire extinguishers that are easy for seniors to use.
Install stove alarms and automatic shut off devices.
For seniors who have difficulty hearing – it's recommended to install smoke detectors with flashing strobe lights.
Also, if you have an Echo (Alexa) smart device in the home – it can be programmed to detect the sound of an alarm or even broken glass. If Alexa hears any of these sounds, it will send you a clip of the sound.
If you use Alexa, you can have it control lights too. All it needs is a voice command to turn the light on or off or dim it.
Useful kitchen gadgets
Electric jar opener – If your aging parent needs to open jars often – the electric jar opener makes a great gift. It's the next best thing to you being by her side, opening the jar for her.
Peel fruits and vegetables with this comfort-designed peeler. It rests comfortably in the palm of your hand and has a finger grip to peel through vegetables and fruits. Peel in comfort without worrying about dropping it or accidental slips.
Reachers help seniors with limited range of motion grab out of reach items with ease. (And not just in the kitchen! When you drop your glasses behind a chair, reacher grabber is there!) Using a grabber hopefully keeps seniors off a step stool or chair to reach something. This daily living product comes in different styles, including lightweight, folding, and telescoping, to adjust for height—perfect for items in low or high places.
No matter your age, having a magnifying glass in the kitchen to read smaller print in recipes, on labels, etc., is truly a safety tip that all seniors should have readily available in their kitchens.
Small baking pans – It's challenging to cook for one person, but using mini muffin pans, mini bundt pans and small cookie sheets, etc. all work very well to make smaller versions of their favorite dishes. Also, they are much easier to manage and to clean.
Timers – It's always a good idea to have several timers in the kitchen. These days though, it's easy to use a voice search device like Alexa. Just say, "Alexa, set the timer for 20 minutes." At 20 minutes, Alexa will sound a ding to let you know the time is up, and she won't stop until you tell her to turn off the timer.
Milk carton holder – This works well for some seniors if they have a problem lifting a heavy milk carton.
Electric can openers – Under counter mounted can openers are a great space-saving product that almost every kitchen can use.
Anti-fatigue mats – Most kitchen floors are either vinyl, tile, wood, or an engineered product. No matter which type of flooring you have, the commonality is that they are hard and can be challenging to stand on for any length of time. An anti-fatigue mat or memory foam mat can alleviate that.
Rocker knives for stability
Just like its name, it's a knife that rocks. Used with one hand with a rocking motion easily cuts meats, cheeses, fruit, and vegetables on a cutting board. Due to the stability of the knife, it offers more safety than other blades.
Soft grip kitchen shears
A good pair of kitchen scissors can cut through items as delicate as fresh herbs or as tough as a melon rind or beef jerky. The difference between the soft grip and a regular pair of kitsch scissors is the grip, as it provides more stability in the hand and less chance of a mishap.
Mixing bowl with grip for making your famous chocolate chip cookies
Even at 25, holding a mixing bowl in one hand and a hand-held mixer in the other is hard! Imagine how difficult it is for someone with compromised hand strength—holding onto a smooth rim can be difficult, sometimes impossible. Find a mixing bowl with a grip on the edges or a handle that can help you continue your fame as the family's most excellent chocolate chip cookie maker!
Is it time to schedule a free home assessment for your elderly parent?