To continue living independently at home as we age, being able to safely prepare and cook meals is essential. The kitchen can be one of the most dangerous places in the house, especially for seniors. Fortunately, there are many changes you can make to create a safe and functional kitchen. Consider these 9 tips to make cooking as safe as possible at you or your loved one’s home:
1. Relocate Frequently Used Items
If you need to use a step stool to access kitchenware in upper cabinets or must crouch to get items from lower cabinets, it could be time to relocate them. Move items you use often, such as plates, cups, and cookware, to waist-high level storage areas for easier lifting.
2. Install Automatic Shut-Off Devices for Appliances
If you or your loved one is forgetful or has memory issues, the oven, stovetop, or other appliances could pose fire hazards if left on for extended periods of time. Shut-off devices can manage this concern by automatically turning off the appliance through timers or sensors. There are a variety of devices you can buy to help prevent fires.
3. Utilize Non-Skid Materials
Between doing the dishes and preparing food, spills are a common occurrence in the kitchen, and the resulting slick surfaces can cause you to fall. You can utilize non-skid materials to reduce your chance of falling. Consider wearing shoes or slippers with skid-free soles and buy a nonslip mat to use in front of the sink.
4. Clean Up Clutter
Having too many items on the floor, table, or countertops can make navigating and using your kitchen challenging and unsafe. Remove excess material from these areas by throwing away or recycling unneeded clutter or by storing it in cupboards or other areas in your home.
5. Buy a Functional Timer
Timers are an extremely useful tool while cooking. Buy a timer that enables you or your loved one to take food off a burner or out of the oven on time. For those with hearing or vision loss, there are timers that emit a loud sound or use flashing lights to signify that time is done.
6. Increase Lighting
Our vision decreases as we age, making hazards and obstacles harder to see. Adding bright, ample lighting can help provide more awareness of your environment, especially in high-use areas like the sink, stovetop, and countertops.
7. Label Perishable Items
Managing perishable food items can be difficult, especially if they are hard to reach. Label items with the purchase or preparation date to help you or your loved ones eat the food on time or know when to throw out spoiled food.
8. Mount and Test Alarms
No matter how safe we are, emergencies can happen while we are cooking. It’s important to be prepared when they occur. Make sure your kitchen has smoke alarms installed to warn you of potential fires. Then, test the alarm to ensure it is working. The U.S. Fire Administration suggests you test the alarm every month and replace the batteries once a year. Additionally, consider getting a fire extinguisher designed for seniors to easily use.
9. Take Advantage of Professional Help
You or your loved one can get professional help to ensure you continue to safely cook in your home. CareAparent, an in-home care company serving the Twin Cities metro, is here to help. Our Occupational Therapists can assess potential hazards in your kitchen and with your cooking routine, and then they can make adaptations to reduce your risk of injury. Additionally, our dedicated caregivers can provide transportation to grocery shopping and prepare meals if needed.
CareAparent is certified by Medicare, so you can trust us to keep you or your loved ones safe. Visit CareAparent.com or call 651.370.HOME (4663) to request a complimentary consultation to see how we can help you and your loved one live safely and independently at home.