Kitchens are where families come together and connect. It’s always a special part of the home, but there are several kitchen hazards that pose risks for seniors.
Luckily, families can help keep loved ones safe by taking simple precautions or by making a few kitchen modifications.
Five Safety Hazards in the Kitchen for Seniors Aging in Place
Certain cooking tasks, like cutting or peeling, can be dangerous for anyone. For older adults aging in place, activities like reaching for items in high kitchen cupboards can eventually become an additional challenge.
Many seniors aging in place have reduced mobility, dexterity, balance, or eyesight – all making preparing meals and cleaning up after them more difficult and potentially riskier. Understanding common kitchen hazards can help families address safety issues.
Here are the top five common kitchen hazards that impact senior independence:
1. Poor lighting
Many seniors have a harder time seeing well, especially in low light, making shadows or dark cupboards tough to navigate. Consider installing in-cabinet touch lighting and a motion-activated light to illuminate countertop corners, tables, rugs, and chairs.
2. Hard-to-reach cabinets
Grabbing a few plates from a high cabinet can be dangerous for the elderly. Help your senior reorganize so everyday items are easily accessible without having to reach high or bend over. If they do need to reach for certain items, encourage them to wait until someone can stop by to help.
3. Countertop clutter
Clutter happens in every home, but a stack of dishes or last week’s mail could be a risk. Busy counter tops make it hard to set down items safely, find important items, and cause spills. Help seniors avoid clutter by assigning a dedicated space for their most-used items that’s safely out of the way. Take special note of countertop appliances and keep their cords wrapped up when not in use; dangling power cords are easy to trip over!
4. Cutting and chopping
Seniors with limited vision or reduced coordination are more prone to knife accidents. Encourage your loved one to choose pre-cut foods when possible, or dedicate time to meal prep with them whenever possible. Consider purchasing adaptive safety knives, which are easier to hold and safer to use.
We’ve all forgotten something in the oven – or even on the stovetop! It happens to the best of us. But for those with memory issues, these dangerous cooking hazards can be more frequent – and more tragic.
Encourage your loved one to use the microwave instead, whenever possible. If you can, replace their gas or electric stove with an induction stovetop, which is flameless and involves no hot burner. When they must use their gas or electric stove or oven, help them make the habit of using an oven timer or setting reminders on their phone. Smart devices are also a great way to set timers that are loud enough to be heard throughout the home.
Other Dangers in the Kitchen
Not all kitchen safety hazards as visible. Food safety for seniors is often overlooked, but expired food and dirty dishes are a real problem for the elderly or those with disabilities.
Adults 65 and older are much more likely to be hospitalized for or die from foodborne illness. Certain health conditions, including reduced liver and kidney function, elevate the risk even more. Reduce the risk of foodborne illness by following these best practices:
- Get labels and a smudge-proof marker to make expiration dates on food easier to read.
- Disinfect countertops regularly and every time food is prepared.
- Keep dishes clean and disinfect the kitchen sink once a week.
- Establish a schedule with friends, family members, or neighbors to take out the trash.
- Use the back burners as much as possible, with pot handles turned toward the back of the stove.
- Create and post an easy-to-read checklist of reminders about putting foods away, closing the refrigerator, turning off appliances, wiping up spills, and more.
Safe at Home with Homewatch CareGivers
People enjoy making their favorite meals and sharing them with others. Seniors need to be able to prepare healthy foods, not just processed, prepackaged foods or sweets. We provide in-home care services that help seniors cook, clean, and enjoy their independence for as long as possible.
Our friendly, professional staff takes great pride in providing robust companionship services. Schedule a consultation today or call 888-404-5191 to learn more.