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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

Home safety tips for the elderly: 10 Easy Modifications for the kitchen

Written by Posted On Thursday, 21 December 2017 05:24

For those looking to age in place, safety in the kitchen is critical.  The most common issues are falls and fires (or burns).  And, when you're older, falling down can have a much bigger impact  on your body.  In fact, among aging adults 65 and older, 20% of falls result in a broken bone or head injury.  The key is prevention (and of course if someone does fall that there is some more cushioning for shock absorption.

 

Kitchens are one of the most dangerous rooms in house, so I wanted to provide some easy tips to make them safer, especially for older adults.  Here are my top 10 recommendations.

 

1.  Remove area rugs...replace with rubber mats

 Area rugs can create a tripping hazard for seniors, especially as they don't lift their feet as high.  And, area rugs can cause slips as they can move.  Instead, get the rubber anti-fatigue mats for the sink area and stove/range area.  These are heavier, so they won't cause slips (they stay in place due to their own weight).  Also, if these get wet, they are way less slippery vs tile or other hard surfaces.  In addition, these are so much easier on your feet and back, so you'll be less tired.

 

2.  Get levered faucet handles.

These are much easier to turn on/turn off vs faucets that you need to twist.  And, you are less likely to issues with the water getting too hot (or too cold).  These can usually be replaced easily and often don't require any plumbing modifications.

 

3.  Remove any clutter

First, make sure there is no clutter on the floor.  Second, remove clutter on the counter tops.  Third, remove clutter in the cabinets and get rid of things you don't need/don't use often.  And, fourth, make sure the items you use most often are easy to reach.

 

4.  Install safe flooring

Tile is the worst type of flooring for older adults as they are most likely to slip on them (especially when it gets wet), and if you do fall, it's a very hard surface.  Instead, you need flooring that is less likely to cause slips and one that has less impact on your body if you do fall.  Check out this article on Safest types of flooring for aging in place.  This shares the safest flooring for each room in the house and provides a lot of bonus safety tips.  For kitchens, my top choice is a fairly new product called Coretec Plus.  This is a waterproof product that is easy to clean.  It has some texture for slip resistance, and it has a cork underlayment for some cushioning.  It can be installed directly on top of tile.  And, it looks like real hardwood (they also have versions that look like tile).

 

5.  Clean up spills right away

Yes, these spills can cause slipping, so don't let water just sit there.  Clean it up right away.

 

6.  Make sure you have good lighting

This is important for everyone, but even more imporant among older adults who start to lose some of their vision, especially their periphery vision.  Good lighting will make tripping less likely as well as make it less likely that things on the countertop or stove area will falll (or even start a fire).  Make sure the regular lighting is set and check to see if any bulbs need to be replaced.  Also, it's safer to add night lights in case you need to go into the kitchen at night.  This is even more important during the winter months when it gets dark earlier.

 

7.  Choose meals that need less cooking

If you can choose meals that require less cooking or lower heat or less preparation time, that will make things faster and easier.  Try to avoid foods that tend to spatter (grease can cause burns and get on the floor...and of course they can be a mess to clean up).  Try to avoid meals that require high heat, especially if they need to be heated for a long time.  And, be sure to use timers, so you don't let the food burn (or worse, cause a fire).  Never leave food unattended.

 

8.  Use oven mitts rather than pot holders

These are just safer.  They are safer for your hands, and they are less likely to burn (especially if you have a gas stove).

 

9.  Use lighter pots

These are just so much easier to cook with and lift.  You are way less likely to have accidents with these.

 

10.  Avoid loose fitting clothing

Yes, if you have loose fitting clothes, they can get in your way, and the clothes could dangle on the stove.  I would avoid wearing scarves when cooking or other similar items.  And, of course wear comfortable clothes and comfortable non slip shoes.  I would avoid wearing just socks, as those can cause you to slip.  Instead wear non-slip slippers.

 

So I hope these safety tips will help you or help a loved one.  And, many of the tips apply to safety for kids as well...in fact, many apply to all ages.

 

 

 

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Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl

I'm known as The Flooring Girl, and I used to own my own Flooring store in Westchester County, NY.  I blog about hardwood flooring, sanding, carpet, other flooring options and home decor.

 

Please note that some of this site's links are affiliate links, and Debbie Gartner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. At NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, I will earn a small commission, if you purchase them. Please note that these are products I know/use and recommend to my customers. I recommend them as they are good products.

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