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Safe Cooking for Seniors
Published By Right At Home Calgary on August 30, 2018

As one of the busiest places in a home, the kitchen poses some of the most significant health hazards to seniors. Preventing injury is an extremely important aspect of in-home care, and it’s important not to overlook the kitchen. These tips will ensure that your aging loved one’s kitchen is safe at all times.

Lighting

Our vision can weaken as we age, and many seniors have trouble seeing things clearly. Adding proper lighting will help loved ones find their way around the kitchen and make it easier for them to use it without accidents.

Install lights at the range, sink and countertops to ensure these areas are well-lit. Light switches should be located at all entrances to the kitchen. You can also use nightlights to help your loved one see more clearly in the dark.

Choose a countertop finish that is not too glossy. Shiny surfaces are a distraction that makes it difficult for someone with declining vision to view their workspace.  

Appliances

Consider which kitchen appliances are necessary and safe for your loved one to use. Appliances should be properly maintained and used only as needed. Unplug counter appliances when they aren’t in use, and ensure they’re stored away from the sink.

Keep ranges clear of objects that could touch the burners, such as curtains and plastic containers. If your loved one is capable of safely using an oven, the controls should be clearly marked. Invest in automatic shut-off devices for the stove and other appliances that pose a fire hazard. 

Be sure to reassess your loved one’s abilities regularly. Microwaves and toaster ovens are safer options than ovens.

Counters and Floors

You can improve kitchen safety by creating senior-friendly work areas. Installing a lever-handled faucet ensures that your loved one can easily turn water off and on. Counters should be kept clear of unnecessary and sharp items.

Marble and tiled floors are often slippery and can be dangerous for seniors who have difficulty walking. Non-slip, anti-glare flooring is a safer choice. Cleaning up clutter can also help to reduce the likelihood of your loved one falling in the kitchen. Check for leaks around sinks, refrigerators, and other appliances frequently to avoid slips.

Food Preparation

Hot pads and pot holders should be kept near the stove for ease of use. Knives and other sharp objects should be properly stored, and if your loved one struggles with loss of strength or coordination, it may be best to store knives out of reach.

Move all cooking utensils to cabinets within reach. Provide your elderly loved one with pots that have two handles to make handling them easier and to prevent spills.

Encourage your loved one not to wear loose-fitting clothing when cooking.

Other Kitchen Safety Measures

If you notice your aging loved one is becoming more forgetful or less agile, the above tips may not be enough to make it safe for them to cook. In that case, you might consider hiring a meal service or taking on the task of preparing your loved one’s meals yourself.

Many adult children hesitate to make these changes because they are afraid of hurting their loved one’s feelings (especially of someone who enjoys cooking). However, it’s in their best interest to be firm and make safety a priority. The kitchen can be dangerous. Give it as much consideration as you would the rest of your loved one’s home.
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