The kitchen has always been a place for family and socializing. Making changes for aging in place in the kitchen space can greatly increase its usability and the safety of those that live there. With home modification, people will no longer have to spend less time in the kitchen as they age.
Kitchens should be located on the main level of the home. If not, you should consider remodeling to add one, as food preparation is an activity of daily living (ADL) and some portion of time daily is spent there.
Relocating the dishwasher is a great way to increase its ease of use. You could also raise the height of the dishwasher, which can reduce the strain of loading and unloading.
Adjusting the height and/or location of the sink to suit your needs can really impact your experience in the kitchen. You can also add a roll-under sink so those that are wheelchair bound can use it. There are motorized, adjustable height counters/sinks available, which can go from a standard height to something more accessible by someone who is in a wheelchair. A local cabinet maker or Certified Aging in Place Specialist can help you find a solution right for you.
Since a significant part of the work in a kitchen happens at the sink, having one that is easy to use is very important.
- Install a shallow sink (6″ deep)
- Use a hands-free or lever-handled faucet, mounted on the side to limit reaching. Also, with a pull-out sprayer.
- Install a motorized sink that raises and lowers. This will allow each user to adjust the sink to a comfortable height.
- Leave space beneath the sink free so someone sitting or in a wheelchair can use it comfortably. (You can install doors on the front to improve the look.
- Incorporate an anti-scald device to keep people from getting burned.
- Make sure any water filtering devices are easily reached by everyone.
Adding pull out shelves can greatly reduce the strain of bending over to reach the back of cabinets. (These are also great if you want to utilize maximum storage space in the cabinets.) Pull-out shelves can be found at most home improvement stores or by contacting a local shelving company.
Adding pull down shelves in the upper cabinets can greatly reduce the amount of reaching required to access upper cabinets. As with the lower cabinets, they can be found at most home improvement stores or by contacting a local shelving company.
Doors and Drawers
Adding “D” shaped pulls/handles allow people of all abilities to open and close the cabinets easily. Most hardware and home improvement stores carry these items.
Appliances play a major role in a person’s ability to use and work in the kitchen safely and efficiently. Appliances that do not incorporate universal design, or that are placed improperly, can inhibit this. Select appliances that display information clearly, have convenient functions and are easy to use. Many appliance makers are incorporating universal design principles in their designs, which allow consumers to get a variety of more functional appliances. You should also consider investing in energy saving appliances, which will help you save money.
Many advances have been made in the design of refrigerators and freezers, making them easier to use and lower the cost of ownership. Here are a some features that can increase usability.
- Illuminated water and ice dispensers on the outside of the door
- Large numbers and letters on displays
- Long, continuous door handles allow for multiple gripping points
- Good lighting inside the refrigerator to improve visibility
- Increased storage on the door, including room for gallon jugs
- Top-mount refrigerators that have freezer storage on the bottom for easy access
- A Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer can provide easy access to both compartments. It also will mean doors are narrow (less swing radius)
- Some models offer slide out and see through shelves and bins, which can make items easier to see and reach