Anyone who is lucky enough to live to be really old will eventually need to embrace the fact that they may need a little help doing things around the house that were once effortless. Turning a thoughtful eye to the home, an elderly person can find ways to make their home function just as well for them now as it did decades earlier.
One of the most problematic rooms for an elderly person to negotiate is the kitchen. When mobility is restricted, tasks that used to be simple become all but impossible.
Here are some adjustments that can be made in a kitchen so that it remains functional for an older person as their ability to access the highs and lows of the room becomes more and more limited.
Compensating for Limited Mobility
One of the most common occurrences as people age, even if they are still active and healthy, is that their range of mobility diminishes. So reaching the top and bottom shelves in kitchen cabinets can become difficult or impossible.
Of course these shelves could remain empty, but there are also ways that they can still be used and accessed even by an elderly person with constricted mobility.
Adding a pull down mechanism to cabinet shelving allows even a person confined to a wheelchair to reach heights that would normally not be accessible to them. Adding this type of mechanism to kitchen cabinets also helps seniors avoid serious falls, because they are not overreaching to retrieve a item from a high shelf.
Side Open Doors
When replacing appliances, look for doors that open sideways so that they are lighter and easier to maneuver. Another thing to consider is where the knobs or control panel is on an appliance. Making sure that all knobs and temperature controls are placed at the front of the appliance is much safer for an elderly person than having the controls located at the back of an appliance.
For example, locating the knobs on the front of a stove top saves an older person from reaching across hot burners and risking a dangerous burn to turn the appliance off. Keep the kitchen colorful and inviting by hanging a collection of wall decor, such as Celtic wall crosses or wine bottle art, on the wall over the stove.
Faucet Control Levers
For elderly people suffering from arthritis, their ability to grip can be severely diminished making it hard to turn a faucet on and off. Replace faucets with lever controls for easier operation. This type of faucet can easily be turned on and off just by bumping the lever.
The biggest changes are required when making the kitchen wheelchair accessible. However, if an elderly person is wheelchair bound, making these retrofits to a kitchen can make the difference between them being self sufficient or dependent on someone else.
Essentially the counters, appliances and sinks need to be brought down to a seated height. Installing a shallower basin lets a wheelchair fit easily under the sink, and repositioning tree branch wall decor so that it can be appreciated from a seated position offers a nice finishing touch for the room’s design. For an idea on plans click here.
While some of the changes to a kitchen can be very expensive, others are quite affordable. Assess the situation and determine where the challenges lie for an elderly person who is fighting to maintain their self sufficiency.