Simple kitchen updates can help seniors be more independent and keeps them safer. Plus, being able to take care of everyday tasks on their own boosts their mood and self-esteem. Remodeling a kitchen can be expensive and slow, so New Life Bath & Kitchen shares 6 simple kitchen updates that you can do yourself.
The kitchen is the center of the home, but when someone is unable to safely or easily move through this important hub, life becomes difficult. If you have an endless budget, you can do a lot to fully customize the kitchen to be accessible to the needs of the seniors in your life.
As you can see, minor adjustments can often make huge differences. When you think about the areas of the kitchen that are the biggest problem for your senior, you’ll be able to adapt the work area in ways that can make independent living easier and safer.
But most of us don’t have that magical endless budget. And so we need to make the kitchen more accessible using affordable, do-it-yourself ways. Read on for 6 DIY tips to make your older adult’s kitchen more senior-friendly.
1. Update lighting
Insufficient lighting can be dangerous in the kitchen for seniors.
First, make light switches easy to turn on and off by replacing any regular light switches with rocker light switches. These work for the whole hand and take less effort than traditional switches.
Then, take inventory of the current light bulbs in the room. Replace old bulbs with LED lights to remove the harsh light that can be hard on the eyes. Install task lighting above workstations, below upper cabinets, and in storage spaces.
2. Make storage more accessible
A no-cost accessible upgrade to the kitchen is to reassess the placement of items.
Keep daily-use items, like cookware, in lower cabinets that are easier to reach from a wheelchair. Even if a wheelchair isn’t being used, place these items between waist and shoulder height. Adding pullout landing boards of spring-assisted shelving can also help with heavy items.
Think outside the stack, and store dishes and baking sheets on end by adding dowels in your existing cabinets. You can also find ready-made inserts at various home stores. Consider lazy susan trays, full-extension slide shelving, sliding wire organizers, and pull-down shelves as well.
It’s much safer for older adults to be able to pull shelves toward them instead of having to crouch down to search inside a lower cabinet or using a step stool to reach items in higher cabinets.
3. Make drawer handles easier to use
You may also want to consider a touch drawer system, where the door can pop open from being pushed.
4. Make the kitchen faucet more accessible
At the sink, make using the faucet easier by updating with lever-style fixtures instead of twist knobs.
Motion-sensor faucets are even better. Not only do these faucets eliminate the need to grip, they also get rid of the possibility of forgetting to turn the water off. A simpler and less expensive option is to add a motion sensor adapter.
5. Use contrasting colors to make things easier to see
For those with limited vision or dementia, colors and labels can be incredibly helpful.
You could add non-slip tape on the floor to create a contrasting border that makes it easier to see where the floor ends and the wall begins.
A simple way to make sure the stove knob isn’t left in the on position is to put red nail polish on the “off” position. This also makes it easier for your older adult to check that it’s off without having to walk across the room.
6. Add a work table
Lowering countertops is helpful, especially for older adults who are in wheelchairs or have lost height due to osteoporosis. An inexpensive solution is to buy a 30-inch-high corner table or kitchen island. It should fit a wheelchair underneath and still be at the right height for food preparation.
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Guest contributor: Chuck Winkles is the president of New Life Bath & Kitchen. Chuck was born in Southern California and currently resides in Santa Maria. He’s been married to his wife Shelley for thirty-eight years and has two sons, Nathan and Noah.
Image: Senior Legacy In-Home Care
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