The kitchen is often the heart of the home. During meal preparation, this is where family and friends tend to congregate. You may have many fond memories of holiday meals where generations of beloved recipes have been prepared and then enjoyed.
When deciding to age in place the kitchen is often a room that is neglected. This may be because large renovations are likely cost-prohibitive, but there are ways to modify the kitchen to make it a safer place to negotiate for the long term.
Take a good look around your kitchen. What appliances are there? How high are the countertops? Can you reach all the cabinets? Where is the table? Is there room to move about the space without bumping into anything?
A bit of decluttering, organization and repositioning of items in the cabinets and refrigerator may be all you need to do to improve the safety of your kitchen.
Sometimes repositioning the table or removing extra chairs gives the extra space you may need to accommodate a walker or a wheelchair. These are all simple kitchen modifications to keep you safe!
Clutter in the kitchen can be tamed with a systematic, step-by-step approach. First, throw out the obvious junk. An initial purge is a great way to get motivated by seeing immediate results. Start with the junk drawer. Throw out dried-out pens, old take-out menus, broken pencils, the collection of fasteners that you will never use, and any other items that have been in there too long to be of any use anymore. Wipe out the drawer and only return the items you will use.
Next tackle drawers, cabinets, and countertops. It’s best to only do one drawer or cabinet at a time and make the commitment to completely finish it. Tell the truth about what you use and what you don’t. If there are items on your countertop that you want to keep but you don’t use very often, put them in a cabinet instead of leaving them out.
It is helpful to create categories: keep, give away, sell or garage sale potential, charitable donations, and, of course, throw away.
Once cabinets are decluttered consider adding a lazy Susan, sliding baskets, or sliding shelves for things used frequently. Place rarely used items in the deeper recesses of the cabinets.
Appliances are high-use items and require consideration about how to make them work for you as you age. The refrigerator should be in an area that is free of obstructions. Arrange items in the fridge in easy-to-reach places and don’t cram it so full that you can no longer see what you have. Rearranging the shelves so that heavier items like gallons of milk can be at waist height could be a game-changer. If a large container of juice or milk is too heavy and unwieldy you could pour it into smaller containers with easy-access lids. See-through bins and slide-out shelves make it easier to find and reach the food you are looking for.
The key to making our living spaces safer as we age involves making logical and often simple adaptations to existing conditions. Decluttering and reorganizing can go a long way toward making your kitchen safer and keeping it the heart of your home.
If you feel that structural home modifications could greatly improve your life, please don’t hesitate to contact us. LiveWell has a team of qualified craftsmen that can provide you with the safe and accessible kitchen of your dreams.