As we grow older, it’s harder to perform all the actions we did when we were young. Seniors often end up in nursing homes where others take care of them. However, aging in place is better, as it allows people to stay fully independent. Using the kitchen on their own is one of the actions seniors relish but it can be remodeled a bit to allow for comfortable aging in place.
Kitchen’s location inside a new home
If your home still hasn’t been built or it’s going through a major renovation, then make sure the kitchen is located on the ground floor. This is one of the rooms used often, so ease of access should be imperative for people with mobility issues.
Being able to maneuver
Speaking of mobility, the kitchen should have plenty of room to navigate the counter and the kitchen island. Clearance around doorways should be as wide as possible so that even people in wheelchairs can pass through without a hitch.
The doors don’t have to have conventional hinges and open outwards. Sliding doors are perhaps a better option because they don’t constrict passageways. When shopping for appliances, choose smaller and narrower models.
Turning on the lights
An essential part of aging in place is the ability to cook food. However, this includes picking up the knife, which is dangerous, especially when visibility is low. After dark, the light inside the kitchen should be strong and shine directly at the countertop where the cutting board is located.
The cheapest solution is to buy an LED strip and attach it under the kitchen cabinets. This way, you’ll get better countertop visibility and cool-looking ambient lighting.
Further on, switching on the lights can be eased by installing an automatic switch, using motion sensor technology, the light will turn on the moment someone a person enters the kitchen. This technology is useful for other rooms, such as the basement or the attic that receive little to no natural light.
Dealing with slippery floors
A common kitchen hazard is slippery floors. Floor tiles aren’t particularly dangerous when they are dry but a drop of cooking oil turns them into an ice rink. Carpeting doesn’t help much because its maintenance is too much for seniors to handle on their own.
A much better solution is a heavy duty anti slip mat resembling those found in convenience stores behind the counter. Business owners swear by them as they prevent injury in high traffic areas. Getting one for the kitchen will prevent seniors from slipping, which can be fatal at their age.
The importance of door handles
We’ve mentioned earlier that a sliding door is suitable for the kitchen but you can’t have sliding doors in every room. It’s easier, more convenient, and cheaper to install a D-shaped handle that improves grip. Apart from the doors, the handles are suitable for kitchen cabinet doors and the oven door. In order to ease the process of entering the kitchen, you can remove the doorstep to make the entrance flat.
The wondrous thermostat
Poor blood circulation is one of the reasons why seniors often feel too cold or they are too hot in summer. HVAC takes care of this but accessibility is an issue. A remote controller is nice but needs to be carried around from one room to the other.
A better solution is a programmable thermostat that would hang from the wall in the kitchen. Because of the stove and the oven, air temperature can soar quickly inside the kitchen, so an accessible thermostat is a lifesaver. The buttons and the display on the thermostat should be large than usual.
The hanging cabinets in the kitchen should be set a tad lower, like the ones in the bathroom. However, you should look to store everything under the countertop where accessibility is greater. In this sense, pullout cabinets make aging in place a walk in the park.
Lower cabinets should feature pullout shelves to reduce back strain and add extra storage space. For a senior living alone, the lower cabinets offer enough storage utensils used every day. Bulkier pots and pans can be store in the aforementioned hanging cabinets.
There are various types of kitchen remodel but the ones aimed at aging in place for seniors are especially interesting. A kitchen remodel using the 7 tips listed above is actually quite child-friendly as well, so the entire family benefits from it, not just grandma and grandpa.