Kitchen modifications can greatly ease the work for elderly and making it safer to work. There are so many customized kitchen devices available on the market that even a badly limited person can become a good cook.
The following 11 points are very basic and quicky implementable techniques you can use to enjoy preparing meal are listed below:
- Work Triangle : The work slab is of triangle shape. It starts at the food preparation part, which is usually around the sink where vegetable or foods from the storage are cleaned and washed. The next phase is mixing area, where meals are mixed and prepared and the third phase is range, stove, or microwave where the food is actually cooked. Make sure to arrange these phases in a triangular way to save your energy and to work efficiently.
- Refrigerators and Freezers : Side-by-side refrigerator enables access to all area by all, irrespective of their reaching or bending potential. Automatic defrosting refrigerator, ice cube makers, and cold water faucet is helpful to elderly persons.
- Counters and Work Surfaces: Adjustable countertops can address the individual needs of elderly. The only counter area that cannot be customized is the area above the dishwasher. You can use this area as a transition area for food from the refrigerator or sink. Stand-alone kitchen tables can work if you want to sit when preparing food. Attached lapboard to your wheelchair can also work. In corner counters stoves and sinks can be placed if you use a wheelchair. A stool will enable you to sit at the counter relaxing your back. If you're not able to stand for long times, a sling belt can be fixed on the counter.
- Sinks : If you have deep sink, you can install a wooden, plastic or wire rack, which will raise the working level to a height comfortable for you. You'll also require an open area beneath the sink in case you use a wheelchair. Garbage disposals should be placed far back to make the way clear. To get enough leg space you can install an individual sink alongside your standard sink and fix the garbage disposal unit to it.
- Cook Top : Stove with staggered burners will enable persons using wheelchairs to approach the back burners without hurting themselves. A mirror fixed on the stove will enable the elderly to supervise the cooking. You can insulate the leg room underneath the cook top to avoid accidental burning on the under surface.
- Ovens : Location of oven is important. Wall-mounted ovens with door on side are best for persons whose mobility is restricted. A toaster oven is more accessible to cook or heat small items.
- Controls : Elderly with restricted hand dexterity are unable to operate equipment controls. So a rubber cane tip having a dowel, fixed over an appliance control knob can work. Any markings should contrast with their background, for the people with poor eyesight to visualize it clearly the level at which the appliance is fixed. Audible or tactile markings can also be helpful. A wooden safety hook will prevent the elderly person from getting burn when using oven. The switches of wall mounted ovens must not be located more than 40" of height from the floor for the elderly to reach them easily.
- Storage : If you are in a wheelchair, reaching kitchen storage can be an issue. Base cabinets are the ideal storage sections. Rolling storage carts can also help in moving out of the way when access to the work surface is required. Several innovative concepts are available to maximize your storage space, which could be hooks for pots and pans, door racks for brooms, and hangers for glassware and cups.
- Hardware : You should replace a knob with a loop which will bring independence in the kitchen for elderly. Drawer suspension systems will enable to pull out a heavy drawer filling with pots and pans and lessen the effort of elderly.
- Garbage and Cleaning : Trash compactors can reduce the number of trips towards garbage can. Garbage disposals are great ways to dispose of smelly clutters. It can be placed under the sink if you are in a wheelchair.
- Tableware : Proper tableware can make a comfortable eating if you have unsteady hands. Glasses with contours are helpful for people having arthritis to drink comfortably. Molded flatware will offer greater independence.
Following the above tips for sure help in making your life both safe and comfortable. In some cases, structural changes might be required, you can finance it using your own money or explore options such as reverse mortgage after carefully weighing its pros and cons.