The memories you create in the kitchen last a lifetime: the smells, the tastes, the tactile sensations. Chances are, you created these memories with a parent or grandparent, maybe an aunt, uncle, cousin or sibling. You’re a lot older now, but the fondness you feel for cooking will never leave you because you were able to share it with someone special. But just as you have aged, so have your cooking mentors, and their kitchens.
Out-dated kitchens can present dangers to all people, but it’s particularly important for elderly people to take measures to keep their kitchen safe and functional. Although it may feel a little pointless to renovate a kitchen at this stage, it is important to consider the health benefits of having a kitchen that is ‘elderly-friendly.’
Here are seven great ways to do it:
– Use Safe Appliances
Updating appliances, and ensuring all kitchen electrical equipment are safe and up to standards is something that everyone should be doing, and not just the elderly. This can prevent electrical burns, power shortages, and cut outs in the long run (as well as bringing down the electricity bill).
It is also important to ensure that the microwave, oven and other cooking appliances are at a safe height. We all know how awkward and dangerous it can be pulling hot food or liquid out of a microwave when it’s in an impractical location and this can be particularly dangerous if it’s up high.
– Have benches that are easy to access
Although most modern kitchens tend to have bench tops sitting at a reasonable height, many designs still present bench tops that sit lower then average. With all the time you spend in the kitchen preparing meals, having a bench that sits reasonably high can save your back in the long run and help you avoid those chiropractor visits!
– Avoid Cupboards, Use Drawers instead
When it comes to storage we always recommend drawers over cupboards. Cupboards can make it difficult to reach items inside and find what you need. Drawers on the other hand allow you to bring everything right out to you. Everything is more accessible, and you don’t need to reach as far.
– Be clever with your overhead cupboards
If cupboards are the only way, we suggest they swing outwards rather than upwards. Ones that swing up can be hard to reach when you want to close them, and are simply impractical. Sliding cupboard doors are another great design if space in minimal.
– Stay away from harsh/cold materials
Harsh and cold materials can be especially difficult for people with issues such as arthritic pain. Instead of using stone or steel, look at wooden, laminate, and corian surfaces instead. These surfaces are softer, warmer and less likely to have any negative effects.
It is also good to look into different options for handles. Ideally, these should also be soft on your hands, too.
– Choose a practical freezer
Upright freezers are more practical then chest freezers. They allow you to reach and store more frozen goods. Chest freezers can cause strain on your back while you try to retrieve your items.
– Try things out
Plan ahead! Don’t just think about what is best for right now. You want your kitchen to be a great fit for you and your family for many, many years. Make sure you take a second to look after your future self.
Blum, one of our major suppliers, have created an age simulator suit that you can wear to test out kitchen designs. It restricts your movement to imitate what it would feel like to add a few years to your body. Using this suit, you will be able to discover and understand which parts of your kitchen are potential trouble points down the track, allowing you to make changes to increase your kitchen’s longevity.
Safety in the kitchen is crucial at any age, and it’s important to realize that there is no cut-off date. The elderly in particular need to take care of themselves in the kitchen by ensuring that measures have been taken to make their kitchen user-friendlier. Having a safe kitchen will give you peace of mind that the people you love won’t be harmed while they’re in there, leaving just beautiful memories.
To find out more about safer kitchens or try out Blum’s age simulator suit for your own kitchen, don’t hesitate to call us on 03 9885 9911, or simply request a consultation below.