Aging in place is a growing trend among seniors. Many seniors don't want to move to assisted living or nursing homes and are trying to find ways to stay in their homes during their golden years. This is called aging in place. Often, home modifications are needed in order to enable seniors to safely care for themselves alone as they age. The kitchen can be a particularly problematic space for seniors with disabilities or mobility issues, but with some remodeling, you can help a senior in your life turn their kitchen into a safer space that's easy to navigate. Take a look at the kitchen design tips that are perfect for seniors.
Start With ADA Standards
Luckily, there's an easy place to start when it comes to designing a safe kitchen, and the chances are good that any reputable contractor you hire will already be familiar with it. The place to start is with the standards laid out in the Americans With Disabilities ACT, or the ADA. You can use the ADA standards to help you design a kitchen that's accessible and convenient for seniors with mobility issues.
For example, the ADA says that in pass-through kitchens, the clearance between the counters, appliances, or cabinets on both sides should be 40 inches. In U-shaped kitchens, 60 inches of clearance is required. Following these space guidelines will ensure that your loved one will have enough space to navigate the kitchen even if they're using a walker or confined to a wheelchair.
Choose Cabinets With Drawers
Cabinets with drawers offer a big advantage over cabinets with doors. When your cabinets have doors, you have to reach in and rummage through the shelves to find what you need or to put something back in its proper place. This can get difficult, especially with low cabinets that would require you to get on your hands and knees to reach inside of.
Drawers are much more accessible for people with mobility issues. Once you pull out the drawer, everything is within easy grabbing reach, even the things that were stored all the way in the back. It's also easier to put everything away in its proper place. It's a common misconception that drawers don't provide enough storage space, but the truth is that large drawers can be used to store pots and pans as easily as small drawers can store flatware. A pantry with pullout shelves is similarly helpful when creating an accessible kitchen.
Position the Sink Close to the Stove
When you're cooking, you will often find yourself carrying pots of water from the sink to the stove, or carrying pans full of food to the sink in order to drain liquid from them. This is a simple thing when you're able-bodied, but for older people, carrying full pots and pans can be hard on the arms and back. The closer the stove is to the sink, the easier it will be for a senior to continue to cook when they want to.
That doesn't mean that the sink and stove should necessarily be right next to each other. You also need a workspace within easy reach so that the person cooking can set the pot down quickly if need be. The best option is to put the sink and the stove on the same side in the kitchen, with a small workspace in-between. If that's not possible, a good second alternative is to put the sink one side of the kitchen and the stove directly opposite on the other side. That way, it's just a turn and a few steps between the two.
Helping an elderly loved one age in place can be a great gift. With a good contractor and some accessible design ideas, you can create a kitchen that's perfect for a senior homeowner. To get started, contact local remodeling services.