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Monday December 9, 2019

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Make Your Kitchen Safer and Easier to Use

What can you recommend that will make a kitchen safer and easier to use? My wife, who loves to cook, has had several kitchen-related accidents over the past year. We would like to modify the space to make it safer and more practical.

There are a number of simple modifications and inexpensive add-ons that can transform your kitchen into a safer environment. Depending on your wife’s needs, here are some suggestions for each aspect of the kitchen.

Floors: Replace kitchen throw rugs with non-skid or gel floor mats to reduce tripping or slipping. Gel mats make it more comfortable to stand for long periods of time.

Lights: Replace dim overhead lighting with brighter ceiling lights. Also, consider adding under-cabinet task lighting to brighten up kitchen countertops.

Cabinets and Drawers: Reduce bending or reaching by organizing your kitchen cabinets and drawers so that the items you use most frequently are within comfortable reach. In addition, you can make your cabinets and pantry easier to access by installing pullout shelves or Lazy Susans. Finally, consider installing D-shaped pull-handles on cabinets and drawers. These handles are more comfortable for arthritic hands than traditional knobs.

Faucet: If you have a twist-handle kitchen faucet, replace it with a single handle faucet. They are easier to use, especially for people with arthritis or limited hand strength. There are also kitchen faucets on the market today that will turn themselves on and off by simply touching the base or moving your hand over a motion sensor. For safety purposes, set your hot water tank to 120 degrees to prevent possible water burns.

Microwave and Stove: If your microwave is mounted above the stove, consider moving it to a countertop. This makes it safer and easier to reach. If you are concerned about your wife remembering to turn the stove off, there are automatic stove shut-off devices you can purchase and install to prevent a fire.

If you are looking to upgrade some of your appliances, here are some different features you should look for when shopping.

Refrigerator and Freezer: Side-by-side doors are convenient because frequently used items can be placed at mid-shelf range for easy access. Also, look for refrigerators that feature pullout adjustable height shelves and water/ice dispensers on the outside of the refrigerator door for added convenience.

Stove or Cooktop: Look for a stove with controls on the front, so you will not have to reach over hot burners to turn it off. Also, ask about automatic shut-off burners. Make sure the controls on the stove are easy to see. Flat surface electric or induction burners are great for sliding heavy pots and pans from one burner to the next. For gas stoves, continuous grates are good for this purpose as well.

Oven: For an oven that is easier to maintain, consider purchasing a self-cleaning oven. Ovens that feature a side-swing door are easier to use because you do not have to lean over a hot swing-down door. Also consider a wall-mounted oven, installed at your wife’s preferred height, so she does not have to bend over.

Dishwasher: Consider a dishwasher with drawers that slide in and out and is installed on a 6-10-inch raised platform. These require less bending to load and unload.

Washer and Dryer: Front-load washers and dryers with pedestals that raise the height 10-15 inches are also back-savers and easy to access.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published November 22, 2019
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