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Aging in Place  /  August 9, 2021

Aging in Place: Preventing Kitchen Hazards

Aging in Place 2

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the definition of aging in place is the capability of anyone, regardless of ability level, income, or age, to live comfortably, safely, and independently in one’s own home and community. Aging in place is the goal of 87% of seniors, and home repairs for seniors help facilitate it by making homes safer and more accessible.

Because the kitchen is both one of the rooms in the house where you spend the most time and one of the most dangerous, reorganizing it for aging in place should be one of your first priorities. Here are a few of the hazards that seniors encounter most often in the kitchen and what you can do about them with the help of Handyman Connection.

1. Slippery Surfaces

Most people think of the bathroom first when assessing and reducing fall risk. However, kitchen floors can also become slippery due to spills, potentially causing a life-threatening injury from a fall. One way to reduce the slipperiness of your kitchen floor is to replace the existing surface with textured tile or another form of anti-slip flooring.

2. Inaccessible Cabinets and Countertops

The standard height for kitchen counters is 36 inches. This is adequate if you are standing up to prepare meals, but if you are in a wheelchair, or just cannot remain standing for long periods, 36 inches is too high. Your countertops can be lowered to a height of 30 inches, which is much more comfortable for you. If you prepare food with family members, you may want to consider multi-level countertops that allow some to stand and some to sit. 

Kitchen cabinets may also be inaccessible to you if you have mobility issues. It is possible to have the upper cabinets lowered to a level where you can reach them more easily without strain or risk of injury. Lowering the cabinets three inches from their original position should be sufficient. Other options for making cabinets more accessible are pullout shelves for lower cabinets, pull-down shelves for upper cabinets, and pullout steps for around the floor’s perimeter, allowing you to step up to reach the top shelves if able.

3. Inadequate Lighting

It is important to be able to see what you are doing in the kitchen to avoid cutting yourself or falling. The aging process often involves changes in vision, which can make seeing and identifying possible hazards in time to avoid them more difficult. To compensate, you may have to have new lighting installed in your kitchen, such as motion-activated lighting or lighting around counters and under cabinets.

4. Plumbing Issues

If the water from the faucet is too hot, it can scald the skin. Scald injuries range in severity, with third-degree being the most serious, requiring skin grafts to heal. You can protect yourself from overheated water by having an anti-scald device installed on the kitchen sink.

If your hands are arthritic, it can be difficult to turn the knobs of the faucet on and off. A lever is easier to manage, but better yet are hands-free faucets that are motion activated. These do not require any gripping to turn them on and off.

5. Electrical Outlets

To prevent shock injuries, electrical appliances should never be plugged in over a source of water such as a sink. The cords should not be allowed to trail across the floor, or they could pose a tripping hazard. If electrical outlets are not positioned where they can be used safely, it is possible to have them moved.

Aging in Place and Other Repair Services in Vancouver

It is understandable that you would want to stay in the home that you worked so hard to purchase and where you have made so many memories. Handyman Connection in Vancouver can help make modifications so you can do so safely. Contact us for a free estimate.

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