Kitchen Ideas for Aging in Place




 

Cooktops

With any cooking appliance, safety should be your number one concern. Cooktops are a great choice as they cool much faster than standard ranges and have smooth tops, which allow for easy transition from the stove to the counter. And, they can be installed at a variety of heights for comfortable use.

Some available features that make these kitchen appliances easier to use:

  • Color indicators when the burners are on or still hot (even when the cooktop is off).
  • Front-mounted controls for safety, so you won’t need to lean over hot burners.
  • Self-cleaning
  • Large numbers on a well-lit display
  • Water installed at cooktop for easy pot filling
  • You can also create a easier cooking experience for those with all abilities by installing cabinet doors under the cooktop for those sitting or in a wheelchair.

Wall Ovens

Wall ovens are versatile, they can be mounted in a variety of locations and at at a height that is convenient for everyone. They can also be installed so that the interior rack lines up with the adjacent countertop, which will limit the amount of lifting or bending.

  • Mount the oven so it is easily reached by anyone
  • Look for amenities like a console that is easy to read and lots of interior lighting.
  • You might also consider a counter that pulls out beneath the oven, giving you a place to set dishes as they come out of the oven.

Microwave Ovens

Microwaves have become a mainstay in our kitchens and they have come a long way in terms of usability and safety. For instance, drawer microwave ovens can be installed at a height that everyone can reach and make for easy transition to counters. Some models offer one-touch cooking or beep (with visual indicators) that the food is finished cooking or needs to be stirred.

  • Choose a model that is easy to reach, such as the drawer microwave mentioned earlier or one installed at counter-height.
  • Choose one with simple controls that are easy to read. Also, look for ones that offer visual indicators and tones used to signal instructions.

Dishwashers

Having a dishwasher in your kitchen is a luxury most of us have become accustomed to. They are also great to have for people who might have difficulties standing for long periods of time. Many models now offer one-touch operation or have cycle choices for smaller loads. (Energy efficient and practical.)

  • Look for dishwashers that are easy to use and have clear displays that are easily read.
  • Levers to ‘lock’ the dishwasher door might cause problems for some.
  • Think about installing the dishwasher at a new height, raising a dishwasher reduces the amount of bending and reaching required.

Countertops

Changing out counters when doing a kitchen remodel is something most do. So, why not choose a counter configuration that increases the usability and function for everyone? One great way to do this is installing multi-level countertops in your kitchen. This allows people of different abilities the option to use the countertop that is easiest for them to use. You could have a large portion of your countertops at the standard height of 36″, have a portion at 30″ for people who like or need to sit while working, and a section at 42″ for ease of use while standing.

  • Use a diffferent color for the edges of the countertops. This will give a visual signal identifying the edge.
  • Install counters that have rounded edges and corners. This reduces the chance of injury on sharp corners.
  • We’ll talk more about his later, but make sure there is plenty of lighting over the countertops to reduce eyestrain.
  • Choose a kitchen counter surface that will be easy to maintain and last for years.
  • Configure counters in a way that leaves plenty of room for dishes and small appliances. (Reduce clutter; reduce accidents.)

Cabinets

Cabinets are an integral part of a kitchen remodel. Whether you want more usable space or just want an updated look; cabinets are a great feature to upgrade. While you’re planning for that, why not plan to make your cabinets easier for everyone (and you, as you age)? Remember, the goal is to have everything as easy to reach as possible and limit bending or reaching.

  • Incorporate open shelves for items that are frequently used.
  • Replace knobs with lever-style or ‘D’ handles.
  • Mount upper cabinets 3 inches lower than the conventional height.
  • Install pull-down (for upper cabinets) or pull-out shelves (for lower cabinets).
  • Install lazy-susan type cabinets where appropriate.
  • Clutter causes accidents. Cabinets reduce clutter and create a more clean-looking kitchen environment.

Something to keep in mind, you don’t have to have custom cabinets made. Many cabinet dealers can design a very usable kitchen from pre-manufactured cabinets.