Aging-in-place is an extremely popular concept among seniors. If you’re planning on aging-in-place, you’ll need to consider the house you live in and whether it’s senior-friendly. Your kitchen, in particular, may need your attention.
Not only is the kitchen “the heart of the home”, it can be a dangerous place. Kitchens feature both hot things and sharp things, combined with unforgiving and slippery floors. Falls are more common among seniors, and a fall in the kitchen can be especially dangerous – resulting in broken bones, cuts, scalds, and burns.
This article will list some low and no-cost ways to make a kitchen a safer, more senior-friendly place.
Kitchen fixes You Can Afford
Slips, trips, and falls are more common among some seniors, making floors a big issue. Our first suggestion is no-cost: get rid of throw rugs. These are tripping hazards that need to be eliminated.
Wood, laminate, linoleum, or vinyl flooring are the best choices since they’re easy to clean and allow mobility for wheelchairs and walkers. Tile is a poor option for seniors since it’s both hard and slippery. If you must keep tile in your kitchen, you can apply a slip-resistant coating.
Eyesight deteriorates with age so working with knives and hot appliances becomes more dangerous. A well-lit kitchen is safer for seniors. Lighting can come from a combination of ceiling, sink and countertop lights.
If your lighting budget is limited, increase the wattage in your light fixtures. Also, try changing to LED lights since they get the same power for a fraction of the energy use of traditional bulbs.
For a larger investment you can add under-cabinet lights that illuminate sections of the countertop. Or consider adding recessed lighting to supplement a single ceiling fixture. You can also consider adding an automatic light switch that turns on as soon as a person enters the kitchen.
3. Create Contrast
Contrast makes it easier for age-weakened eyes to perceive things, so countertops should be in a different color than cabinets. (For example, dark cabinets, light countertops.)
If you have the budget, install new cabinets and/or countertops. Be sure the new countertops have rounded corners and edges for safety.
But what do you do if you can’t afford new? Paint is a low-cost and fairly easy answer for cabinets. And while you’re at it, you can replace round pull knobs that can be difficult for arthritic hands and install senior-friendly pulls and handles.
4. Cabinet Accessibility
Kitchens contain a plethora of items – appliances, utensils, pots and pans, dishes, food, supplies, cookbooks, and more. Organization is essential.
Think about what gets used most often and make sure it’s easy to reach. Don’t put heavy or breakable items on high shelves.
If the budget allows, you can install new cabinets with pull-down shelves and unique corner-cabinet solutions. If a complete set of new cabinets isn’t feasible, there are excellent accessories available at your local kitchen and bath store. Accessories like pull-out shelving, drawer organizers, turntables, lazy susans, and utensil holders can make a kitchen a safer, more enjoyable place.
Lots of things happen around the kitchen sink: rinsing dishes, filling pots, cleaning food. Faucets need to be reachable, and sprayer attachments make many tasks easier. Installing a new faucet is not difficult or expensive. Turning down the temperature on the water heater can prevent scalds.
There are plenty of kitchen items signed for seniors to age in place more comfortably. A reaching stick can help seniors reach items on shelves, or seniors who can’t bend over to pick items up off the floor. Jar openers designed with seniors in mind or even automatic jar openers is another inexpensive essential. Cut-resistant gloves can also prevent kitchen-related injuries. Easy open canisters remove the need to twist or turn. Simply press the dot and the canister is open and ready to utilize. Manual food choppers can also make cutting vegetables and fruits safer.
Age-In-Place With Livewell by Blakeford
The CDC defines ”aging-in-place” as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” Aging-in-place offers seniors independence and dignity. No wonder so many seniors prefer this approach.
An age-in-place approach, though, isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The home, the community, and the individual’s needs and abilities come into play. Livewell by Blakeford helps you plan ahead and anticipate your needs.
LiveWell members (healthy, independent adults, 60 and older) enjoy exceptional benefits that allow them to maintain the independence they’ve earned. They enjoy access to a range of services and receive the personal attention they need to retain their cherished autonomy. Services include those not covered by Medicare, like meal preparation, personal care, and light housekeeping.
LiveWell offers a range of plans at different cost and coverage levels to best meet a senior’s future and budget. All plans include an essential package of services to make it possible for someone to be as healthy and independent as possible, at home, for a lifetime. Most plans include services at home and if necessary, in an assisted living or nursing care facility. Contact Livewell by Blakeford for more information.