Next to the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house, particularly for people with mobility issues. Burns and fires as well as risk of falling while using the oven are just a few of the hazards in the kitchen. For the elderly and others with disabilities that affect movement, the kitchen can become a scary place. Fortunately, steps can be taken to make the kitchen safer and help retain independence.
Conduct a Safety Audit
Look around your kitchen. Are there throw rugs or mats that may be a tripping hazard. Tripping while carrying hot liquid or food is especially dangerous and can cause burns in addition to injury from falling.
If you have tile or linoleum floors, look for loose sections that may snag while you walk. Have the floor either repaired or replaced to remove this tripping hazard.
Also look at countertops and other surfaces. Are there sharp objects like knives that may be accidently pulled down if the counter is grabbed quickly?
Move or remove any hazards so that they’re no longer an obstacle.
Often, preparing a meal involves many trips back and forth through the kitchen to get the various tools and supplies needed. For people with balance issues, this also increases the likelihood of falling.
Look around your kitchen. Frequently used items should be placed close to your meal prep area while lesser used items should be further away. This will decrease the amount of work required to prepare a meal and help prevent falls and other injuries as well as conserve your energy.
Move breakable items away from the edge of the counter so they can’t be knocked off if you need to grab the counter quickly or use it for balance while preparing a meal. Include dish drains and small kitchen appliances when thinking about the ideal placement for items in your kitchen.
Check for Grip
Knives and other meal prep tools can become difficult to grip, increasing the likelihood of cutting yourself. Unless your favorite chef’s knife has a solid grip and fits comfortably in your hand, you may want to replace it with one that’s easier to keep hold of.
If you can’t go without your afternoon tea, consider a kettle tipper to avoid burning yourself and a two-handled mug to keep your beverage steady.
Put it Within Reach
Even sturdy stools can be unsafe for people with balance concerns. Move frequently used items to lower shelves so you can access them without stretching or climbing. Lesser used items can be relegated to harder to reach places.
Quickly Clean Up Spills
Food and liquid spills aren’t just an eye sore that invite ants into your home. They create slippery, sticky messes that are a falling hazard. Clean them up as soon as they happen and be sure to dry the floor so you’re not left with a slippery wet spot that’s just as dangerous.
Although house slippers are comfortable and great for relaxing with a book or afternoon footie match, they’re not ideal for the kitchen. Soft soles increase the likelihood of falling. Instead, wear a solid pair of house shoes that gives you support and is also comfortable for standing at the stove or sink.
With a few simple steps and adaptations, your kitchen can be your domain once again. The independence and joy from cooking your own meals is within reach.