Any person, regardless of their age, can be at risk in the kitchen. While this area in the house conjures up thoughts of families coming together for good times and home-made meals, inviting smells of decadent foods being cooked in the oven, and starting the day with a hot cup of coffee, it can also be good hiding place for hazards and dangers.
Creating a safer space in your kitchen, especially for those with conditions that make mobility, dexterity, eyesight or smell difficult, is of utmost important.
The following is a list of common household dangers/hazards, compiled by our home care agency in the greater Vancouver area, to keep an eye out for when trying to maintain a safe kitchen environment. This checklist is especially important for family caregivers of seniors to complete on behalf of their family member who may not be able to identify the dangers on their own:
• Every day items stored in hard to reach places.
• Expired food in the refrigerator, pantry or cupboards.
• Trash that is piling up and not being put out onto the curb to be picked up.
• Ease of access to dull cutlery (e.g, knives).
• Burners that are left on after food has been prepared and can lead to fires and burns.
• Chairs, throw rugs or other obstacles that can easily cause slips and falls.
5 Simple Ways to Spot Hazards in the Kitchen | Home Care Vancouver
The following are tips on how to address common kitchen hazards if you do recognize them in the home of your elder loved one:
Tip #1: Lighting
It is no secret that our vision worsens with age. Extra precautions should be taken to ensure that each area a senior frequents is well lit and easy to navigate. Adding proper lighting will assist them with finding their way around the kitchen. That means installing lights at the range, sink and countertops. It also means ensuring that light switches are located at all entrances to the kitchen. Night lamps can also be added to help your loved one see more clearly in the dark. As well, using a countertop finish that is not too glossy is important as a shiny surface makes it difficult for people with low vision to view their surroundings.
Tip #2: Sanitize Dirty Dish Sponges
Did you know that a dirty dish sponge can accumulate and increase the spread of disease-causing bacteria? A recent study done by University of Arizona found that the 15% of kitchen sponges they examined had salmonella on them. As we age, it becomes more difficult for our bodies to fight off diseases, making it more important to be aware of how bacteria spread and how to prevent it. An easy way to ensure that the sponges are clean is to wet the sponge and zap it in the microwave for approximately one minute. This rule applies to kitchen wash towels, as well. Kitchen wash towels should be washed in the machine with bleach, if possible, on a regular basis.
3. Add Non-Slip Pads
Areas below the sink and the dishwasher are prone to spills that are not always visible to the naked eye. Reduce the risk of falls with non-slip mats in these areas. Preferably, choose one that is padded to reduce back pain while washing dishes.
4. Selecting Appropriate Pots and Pans
For seniors with arthritis, Parkinson’s disease or general muscle ache, owning heavy pots and pans is not ideal. Pans can easily ignite if spilled, especially when they are full of grease. Alternative products: two handled pans allow the senior to lift and manoeuvre hot heavy pans with more stability. Another option is to purchase pots and pans that are made of lighter weight materials like aluminum or carbon steel.
Keeping things organized is another way to ensure sure that the elderly care recipients are safe while in the kitchen. When it comes to organization, sharp knives should be stored in a knife rack or in a separate drawer so that seniors cannot easily cut themselves. All appliances should also be stored in easy to reach places so that seniors do not have to climb ladders or stand on tippy toes to get what they need. A sturdy step ladder can be used if necessary, but it is usually best to avoid using all out of reach cabinets.
Seniors don’t have to give up their love of cooking just because they’ve lost some mobility or mental capacity. The key is to provide a safe environment for them to cook in.
Ace Personnel | Professional Caregivers for Seniors & Homecare | Vancouver & Surrey
ACE Personnel is a family owned and operated service founded in 1977 by Diane Anderson (“Mrs. A”). It began as a home based business and has since been devoted to helping the local community with childcare and home care solutions. Mrs. A took great pride in the fact that she was able to help others through elderly care and nanny placements. She took time to get to know her each of her clients and as a result developed lasting relationships with many of them.
Contact us today if you are looking for a professional caregiver or homecare for your loved one.