“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.”
When Craig Clairbone did quote these golden words, little did he knew that I would use them to ignite my write-up on the means of modifying the kitchen for cooking lovers who’s love for their culinary skills didn’t fade with the fading colour of their hair.
The desire of elderly people to age in place and live independently has etched the path for several technological advancements, especially in the kitchen area which is considered to be the most versatile and equally accident-prone area of the home. For this reason, here are few suggestive measures which should be undertaken to ensure that our elders do not need to compromise on their comfort in the kitchen while exercising their culinary skills.
EASE OF MOBILITY
Kitchen means for seniors should have sufficiently clear floor area to ensure ease of mobility even when the person is using a wheelchair. or wheelchair movement to and fro there should be 42-48 inches of clear passage area. Also, there should be no obstacles on the floor are which is meant for regular movement.
Flooring is of utmost importance to ensure that it is not prone to falling. Irrespective of the budget and choice, the decision for flooring should be the one which finalizes antiskid flooring as the only choice. It should be easy to clean the flooring surface because dirty and greasy flooring is more prone to falls. One can opt for low pile carpet or non-slip tiles. Cork flooring is also a recommended option. Instead of going for a complete makeover of the flooring, one can simply top up the existing floor with the anti-skid textured flooring. If the elderly person is on a wheelchair, then vinyl, hardwood or linoleum flooring is the best.
Lightning in kitchen areas should be ample. It should reach every corner of the kitchen and especially the workstation zone. A balance incoming of sunlight and artificial lighting should be preferred to ensure that our elderly do not suffer strain in their eyes when in the kitchen. Under-cabinet lighting should also be taken care of to prevent any dark area. Also, either these lights should be smart tech or be easily accessible through switches that are placed at comfortable reach. Sensor lights are a good option in case of elders because it turns on as soon as the person enters and turns off when the person leaves. Also, it releives the elders of the tension of switching off the lights while leaving the kitchen. Light in the kitchen is also affected by the colour of the cabinets and drawers. These colours should be non-glared.
Kitchen temperature while cooking is always high as compared to the other areas of the home. This can be hazardous and inconvenient for elders with respiratory concerns. So there should be a smart thermostat in your kitchen to stabilize and control the kitchen temperature.
If there is no door that separates the kitchen from the rest of the home, then it’s the best. But if there is a door, the special care should be taken to have door handles like D-shaped handles which are easily operational by the elders. Avoid any bumps at the door entrance.
The height of the kitchen cabinets should be such that the elderly person is not required to use any tabletop or stairs to reach them. Use of such mechanical assistance makes them more prone to fall. Today the modular kitchen cabinets are such that wither through remote or by means of a push of a button the cabinet shelf comes down and moves up. Also, the lower cabinets should not be low enough that they are a pain to access for the elders.
Countertops with two to three height options should be present in the kitchen, as some prefer standing while cooking while others prefer sitting. Also for those on the wheelchair, the height should be at the level of their convenience. Secondly, the corners of the countertop should not have sharp edges. Either curve them off or use corner protectors to ensure these countertops do not trigger an accident or harm. Add handles at the edges of the countertop for the added safety measure. The person can immediately catch hold of the handlebar in case he/she tends to fall or lose balance. Lastly, these countertops should be made of easy to clean surface.
Refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, oven toaster, coffee maker, electric kettle are some of the most commonly available electrical appliances in any kitchen. The refrigerator as used in the kitchen should have both inside out lightning facility with long door handles. Also, the inside shelves and storage area of the refrigerator should be convenient or the person using it. The microwave, oven, toaster and dishwasher used should be smart enough to turn off when not in use. If these are voice-controlled or app-controlled, that’s an added advantage. The wiring of the electrical appliance and their placement in the kitchen should be such that the elders can easily operate them without any inconvenience.
STOVE OVEN BURNER
Smart cooktop options available today are smart enough to glorify the cooking moment of the person. Considering the mental state and age factor of the elders, these stove oven burners are designed for ease of use and to avoid any negligence. So depending on your finances, kitchen area and tech feasibility of your elder, you can choose from multiple smart stove options available in the market today.
DISH/ FRUITS/VEGETABLE WASHING AREA
Height and depth of the sink are the two factors which are to be considered when having one in a kitchen modelled for the elderly chef. Try to make use of motorized sink or adjustable height countertop, as it is easily accessible even by those sitting in the wheelchair. The faucet should be accessible by means of sensor or handle which is front based. Also if your elderly one is on a wheelchair, then there should be sufficient space at the bottom of the sink
ALARMS AND ALERTS
The kitchen made for elders should be well equipped with alerts and alarms to detect and prevent any accident. The person in the kitchen should be able to call for an emergency on a real-time basis. Equip the kitchen with smart smoke and fire alarms and detectors. One fire extinguisher should also be present in every kitchen, to avoid any fatal accident.
After a well-focused read of the above content, you should now be confident enough to improve the overall functionality of your kitchen for your elder’s easy accessibility and comfort while cooking. Also, don’t miss to read the upcoming article which will guide you on basic smart tools and gadgets for the comfort of elders working in the kitchen.