The kitchen is always one of those big places at home where fun memories are made and cherished. In later years, elderly residents want to keep those memories alive and build new ones, but still safe in the kitchen. To achieve that, it will require remodelling, fueled by the ASAG Reverse Mortgage.
To proceed with a kitchen remodelling geared towards the elderly, let’s discuss the safety hazards they tend to face on the floor:
- Slip and fall. Seniors face a higher risk of slip and falls in the kitchen, particularly from flooring materials that invite increased slips or the placement of throw rugs, and spillage of liquids. Hard surfaces and corners on the countertops also compound the danger of blunt-force trauma, including head injuries.
- Fire/burns. Cognitive issues affecting seniors also lend to possible fire hazards, such as forgetting if they turned off appliances that could trigger a fire if kept on. If they are cooking alone, certain cooking processes and ingredients pose a threat of scalding the person. To add to the danger, any fire extinguishers may have been long expired when you really need them.
- Food contamination. Any onset of memory loss can result in cooked food spoiling after a long period of time in the fridge, even when seniors tend to save leftovers for later reheat and eating. They may also be compromised from foodborne illnesses, which is distressing considering a new ANU report commissioned by Food Standards Australia New Zealand tagged foodborne illness as costing the Australian healthcare system $2.44 billion a year.
- Reduced stamina. As kitchen work heavily involves standing, it can tax the feet and legs, leading seniors to sit down frequently for breaks.
- Shelves out of reach. Some shelves or cabinets in the kitchen could be well out of an elderly resident’s reach and may require another person’s longer limbs to get. Accidents can also happen if the senior gets up on a stool or chair and they lose balance.
Changing for the better
Consultations with a reputable home remodeler will help flesh out a kitchen optimised for ageing-in-place seniors. The talks may also involve loved ones taking care of them or visits from time to time, if the senior lives independently, and an aged-care specialist . The resulting data will then be accounted for in an overall blueprint and 3D model if possible. A kitchen remodel for senior residents will focus on a number of cardinal points:
- Flooring. The kitchen’s entire floor should be replaced with non-slip materials, such as textured floors that prevent slip and falls through added traction.
- Countertop. Normally, countertops are placed at waist-level, give or take 36 inches. The height may need to be a bit lower for better access on wheelchairs and lesser strain on people with back issues. Any counters must be rounded to aid in depth perception and also avoid blunt-force impact seen in 90-degree countertop edges.
- Sink. A senior-optimised sink may be between six to eight inches deep to facilitate easier cleaning or food preparation. The faucet must be operated with levers or handles instead of knobs for easier grip (sensor-activated faucets can work as well).
- Drawer cabinets. A kitchen remodeller for seniors’ projects may underline the need to build cabinets with pullout drawers; this enables flexibility in accessing utensils or ingredients in short order. For higher cabinets, they can be placed a few inches lower for easier access, but still have separation distance from the countertop. The handles must be long and large for added ease and grip in opening.
- More open space. A seniors-friendly remodelled kitchen may need expanded space to allow people on walkers or wheelchairs to manoeuvre freely. Common kitchen entryways are normally two feet wide; they should be at four feet. Even if the design calls for a kitchen island, there should still be ample space around it.
- Lights. Consider adding more LED lights to the kitchen to provide ample illumination, as well as improve the window arrangement for more natural light if the kitchen faces a natural orientation for the sun. Light switches should be lower on the wall for easy access to wheelchair-bound seniors; the switches themselves should be rocker-type instead of the common models such as toggle or slider. Brighter colours help add to the visual impact of the kitchen and ease of sight.
- Utensil/appliance storage. Some home living experts recommend arranging the storage for kitchen utensils at lower than eye level and in easy-to-reach spots, especially if they frequently use certain utensils and need to get them fast. The utensils themselves can be replaced with larger items that have rubber or silicone grips.
- Triangle zone. A common element in kitchen design is the so-called triangle theory. In this setup, the sink, stove, and the refrigerator are arranged at three close points, allowing for rapid focus and mobility during the cooking process. Some kitchen designers recommend additional space between the sink and stove if they’re close together.
- Safety attachments. It is imperative to have safety equipment in place, such as warning signs, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide sensors.
- Smart appliances. If you have some wiggle room in your budget, invest in some workable smart kitchen appliances. Current models of refrigerators, microwave ovens, and cooktops with range hoods can be managed on the spot or with smartphone apps that, for one, can run operation when you are not present or programmed to turn off at set periods.
The ASAG Reverse Mortgage
ASAG can aid in your Home Improvements effort through the ASAG Reverse Mortgage. Depending on the overall cost of the project, you can use your property’s equity to take out the funding you need for the effort. The repayment may be gradually made until such time as its fully paid off, or paid in full if the property is sold. The latter option may be an advantage: some property experts state that a quality kitchen remodel may add up to $40,000 to the home’s value.
Being able to prepare food for yourself is part of the challenges of aging in place. You can surpass them and improve your quality of life with a well-remodelled kitchen. Inquire your funding options with ASAG today at 1300 002 724 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also get started by using our tool below to assess your available equity.