As you age, the kitchen that once held so many wonderful memories of family meals and togetherness can become a place of dread as you notice you have begun having challenges making a simple breakfast for yourself. Things feel harder to reach and standing at the counter or the stove for meal preparation is more tedious. You may even begin to fear having a fall or other injury such as a burn.
Independence in the kitchen can be a vital part of independent living and aging in place. Modern kitchens can be designed or remodeled with many solutions for “aging in place” design.
Over time you may forget about all the kitchenware you have stored away that has become inaccessible to your reach because it’s either too high to reach or too deep in the dark recesses of lower cabinet shelves. Pull-out shelves for lower cabinets and pull-down shelves for upper cabinets are excellent storage solutions for less physical strain and greater accessibility. Upper cabinets can also be mounted lower than standard height and with lazy Susan-style shelving to put all items within reach as needed. Food storage in the refrigerator can be made easier with a side-by-side fridge/freezer and slide-out shelves.
For cooking and food preparation, multi-level or adjustable counter heights make workspace areas accessible for a range of abilities from standing or sitting. As well as lower or varying heights, counters and sinks can be designed for roll under wheelchair access. Two-sided sinks at different heights and side-mount faucets allow a person with wheelchair mobility to safely and easily use the sink for washing produce and dishes. For baking, wall ovens installed at counter height make transferring hot items to a countertop much safer for a wider range of ages and abilities.
While the bathroom is usually thought of as the room with the most potential for injuries, the kitchen can be a risky place also, for not only falls but also for cuts, bruises, and burns. Flooring made of nonslip and low glare material can greatly reduce falls. And rounded counter edges and corners will help reduce injuries in the event of an unexpected fall, not to mention being safer when bumped into by visiting grandchildren with little faces right at counter height. To reduce burns, front mount burners mean no more reaching across a hot cooktop. Also, ovens and stoves with auto-shut-off features are a great safety feature, since anyone at any age can be forgetful.