Aging adults intend to enjoy their retirement years, and for many of them that includes cooking and dining at home. Retirement allows seniors to have more time to spend on preparing healthy meals and entertaining family and friends, but as they grow older, safety and ease of food preparation can become a concern for seniors with mobility or cognitive difficulties, such as memory impairment from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Because the kitchen often is the hub of family life, it is a room worthy of investment in modifications to keep it at the center of aging adults’ lives as well. There are several remodeling options that make cooking and dining safe and easy for aging adults, and we offer our top choices below.
First Floor Location
For older adults who struggle with mobility or who may develop mobility issues over time, the kitchen should be on the main level of the home. Food preparation is an activity that takes place several times a day, but it may be difficult for aging adults to climb the stairs so many times in one day. Moving the kitchen to the main level of the home is one of the best decisions aging adults can make for their homes, and it should be a top priority for any remodeling effort aimed at improving safety and access for older adults.
Consider the cabinets in the kitchen. If a senior has to bend over and reach to the back of the lower cabinets, we suggest adding pull-out shelves to reduce the strain associated with those movements. Pull-out shelves also tend to maximize the storage space in cabinets, so they also may enable the aging adult to store more items within easy access in the kitchen rather than in a separate pantry or closet.
As for upper cabinets, they may be mounted very high on the wall, making it difficult for seniors to reach items stored inside without making use of a stool or step ladder. If the homeowner does not want to go to the expense of hiring a contractor to lower the cabinet height, one option is to install pull-down shelves in the upper cabinets. These kitchen remodeling ideas may prevent falls and strains for the independent senior who may try to reach these high areas with the use of a stool, chair, or stepladder.
Cabinet and Drawer Knobs and Pulls
If the knobs and pulls on the kitchen cabinets and drawers are small, round knobs, consider replacing them with pulls and handles shaped like the letter “D” or those that are cup-shaped. Knobs and pulls with these distinct shapes are often easier for older adults to grip than traditional round knobs.
Of course, appliances play a crucial role in the kitchen. It is important that aging adults feel comfortable using their appliances safely. Additionally, ensure that the existing appliances are not faulty or pose a hazard. An older gas range may not be the best choice for an aging adult because older models lack an automatic pilot light, while updated gas ranges feature automatic pilot lights. Newer gas range models also have sealed burners, for added safety. Moreover, newer appliances have several features that allow for ease of use, such as multiple timers, alarms, and large LED displays. They also are extremely energy efficient, which saves on utility bills — particularly helpful for seniors who are living on fixed incomes. Finally, some refrigerators offer handles designed for easy opening, which make them a perfect choice for aging adults.
Another appliance to consider for a kitchen remodel to make cooking and dining safe and easy for aging adults is a dishwasher. It may be difficult for aging adults to stand for long periods of time to wash dishes, so remodeling a kitchen to allow space for dishwasher installation is a smart idea. If the kitchen already has a dishwasher, consider relocating it so that it sits directly next to the sink for easier access. Another kitchen remodeling idea is to raise the height of the dishwasher, if possible, to reduce the chances of an aging adult straining to load and unload it. If these dishwasher options are too costly, one final suggestion is to consider purchasing a countertop dishwasher. These dishwashers fit between most countertops and cabinetry and are economical.
Aging adults who choose to remain in their own homes want to be as independent as possible, so remodeling the kitchen to make cooking and dining safe and easy for them should be a priority. From modifying cabinetry to updating appliances, there are several options for kitchen remodeling that allow seniors to make use of their kitchens and continue to enjoy cooking and dining experiences in their homes.
About the Author
Angela Stringfellow writes on behalf of Solvit Connecticut, an electrical, heating and air (HVAC), & plumbing services provider from CT. You can learn more about the services offered by Solvit in some of their most popular areas by following the links below:
- Bristol, Connecticut – http://solvitnow.com/bristol-connecticut/
- Farmington, Connecticut – http://solvitnow.com/farmington-connecticut/
- West Hartford, Connecticut – http://solvitnow.com/west-hartford-connecticut/
- Waterbury, Connecticut – http://solvitnow.com/waterbury-connecticut/
- Torrington, Connecticut – http://solvitnow.com/torrington-connecticut/
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- New Britain, Connecticut – http://solvitnow.com/new-britain-connecticut/