When it comes to aging, it often feels like everything changes. From our bodies and mobility to our schedules and everything in between it all changes. While some change is good, it can be hard to deal with so many changes at once, which is why there has been an increase in seniors who wish to age-in-place.
According to a recent poll conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), over 87% of adults over the age of 65 wish to age-in-place. This trend of aging-in-place has raised concerns among health care officials and younger loved ones regarding the safety and mobility of this increasingly independent yet vulnerable retired generation.
The ability to healthily and safely age-in-place is most successful when seniors have the support of loved ones and living quarters that have been strategically designed to increase safety and mobility and reduce the risk of a possible injury. Over the next several blogs we will explore each aspect of a typical house and discuss possible aging-in-place modifications that can be made to ensure your elderly loved ones safety.
Since the kitchen is often the hub of gatherings and contains many potential risks for an elderly loved one, this week we will focus on how to make your elderly loved ones kitchen more accessible and safe. Due to the many inherent dangers of a kitchen, it is often a room elderly loved ones tend to avoid. This avoidance of the kitchen can lead to many health and nutrition issues and could ultimately put your loved one in the hospital.
Although simple, the following changes can be made to a kitchen with little effort and minimal money and will make a world of difference for your elderly loved one.
Keeping the kitchen safe starts with comfortable lighting with bulbs that are bright yet no so bright they blind your elderly loved one from reflecting off kitchen surfaces. Making sure the bulbs do not flicker or take too long to get bright is another important point. Remember too much light is never a bad thing. Finally, it is important to make light switches easily accessible and located at each entrance to the kitchen.
If you are searching for a home for your elderly loved one to age-in-place in, keep kitchen location in mind. The best case scenario be to have your elderly loved one live in a single-level house with the kitchen centrally located. If your elderly loved one already lives in a house and would like to stay there, encourage them to stay close to the kitchen, or if possible, remodel the house and move the kitchen to a more central location.
When setting up your elderly loved one’s kitchen store kitchen supplies and food in strategic, easily accessible areas. With higher cabinets, utilize cabinet space within easy reaching distance to prevent your senior from having to stand on their toes or on a stool or chair to reach it. For lower cabinets, try to raise the height of the cabinet floor using in-cabinet shelves to prevent them from having to bend over too far. Finally, store dishes close to the sink and/or dishwasher to prevent them from having to move too far to put dishes away.
Keeping the kitchen space tidy and mess free will go a long way in keeping your elderly loved one safe. Senior safety experts recommend disconnecting the garbage disposal to prevent any unnecessary accidents. Make sure any spills on the floor or counter are wiped up immediately to prevent slips.
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