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Kitchen safety tips for seniors

Discover essential kitchen safety tips for elderly loved ones to minimise risks and create a safe and secure environment.

July 05, 2023

Elderly man preparing food in kitchen alone

Whether you live alone or with family, the kitchen is one of the most visited places in your house. It is the place where everybody gathers to prepare meals with love. However, kitchens are among the top 5 dangerous places in the home according to this study. While everyone knows they need to be careful while cooking, with the use of sharp knives, boiling water, and hot ovens being a risk, but despite being cautious, accidents can still happen to anyone. 

These risks can further increase with older adults due to poor mobility or cognitive decline as they age. There can be times when your elderly relative might rush to respond quickly or forget to turn off the stove which could lead to mishaps. 

It's essential to ensure our elderly loved ones are safe in the kitchen. Creating kitchen designs that are safe and accessible for their needs can significantly improve their experience. These designs, such as ergonomic layouts, adjustable countertops, and grab bars, prioritise convenience, comfort, and safety for older adults. This article offers helpful tips for reducing risks and creating a secure environment for them.

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General kitchen safety tips for elderly

Relative checking lights in kitchen for elderly

Install sufficient lighting

It is crucial for the elderly to have satisfactory lighting to avoid accidents and see things clearly. Installing bright, accessible and non-glowing lighting in the kitchen, including task lighting above the stove and countertop areas, is recommended. Considering motion-sensor lights could be a good idea. 

Organise the kitchen essentials suitably

While organising the kitchen for your elderly relatives, it's crucial to keep safety and accessibility in mind. Arranging frequently used items and storing them within easy reach to avoid excessive bending is recommended, especially for people with mobility issues. 

Add non-slip mats and rugs

Non-slip floor mats and rugs could be an excellent addition to ensure the kitchen is safe. Slips and falls could be expected near the sink and stove area, as spillages are quite likely there. These mats can absorb spills should they occur, and they also provide traction to prevent falls

Appliance usage

Ensure that all electrical appliances are well-maintained and appropriately utilised. Simplify appliance usage by opting for appliances with easy-to-read and large dials or digital displays. Investing in elderly-friendly appliances with automatic shut-off features is something to consider. Another significant safety action is to install sturdy grab rails for additional support near the stove and sink where stability is needed.

Consider senior-friendly utensils

Getting utensils with stronger grips or easy-to-hold handles is a reasonable consideration for older adults with agility issues. This step could also help minimise clutter and reduce the risk of unwanted accidents. 

Set reminders and timers 

Encourage your elderly loved ones to use timers and reminders to avoid leaving unattended pots and pans on the stove or in the oven. To prevent any accidental burns or spillages, ensure utensil handles are turned inward to prevent them from being knocked over. 

Staying hydrated 

Remind your older loved ones to stay hydrated while cooking, as dehydration or continuous exposure to warm temperatures in the kitchen can lead to dizziness and increase the risk of falls.

Add a kitchen chair or stool 

Add a comfortable kitchen chair for your elderly loved one to sit in when they need a breather. This way, they can actively supervise their food cooking without standing for the entire time. Also, add a stool with non-slip feet for them to access any utensils or food items above waist level easily.  

Reduce the risk of food poisoning 

Older adults are more susceptible to infections, including food poisoning leading to severe health concerns. Explore these simple ways to help older loved ones minimise kitchen food contamination. 

  • Ensure the fridge is set at a healthy temperature below 4°C and the freezer at or below -18°C. This would help to prevent bacterial growth on perishable foods.
  • Encourage your loved ones to practice proper hand hygiene before handling food, especially after handling raw meat or touching possibly dirty surfaces.
  • Check food expiration dates regularly and discard any expired food from the fridge. Check food for indications of spoilage, such as unusual odours or texture changes.
  • Create a system of labelling everything to separate fresh or perishable food items. 

Importance of kitchen fire safety for elderly living alone

Smoke coming out of food in kitchen

Kitchen fires can be fatal for everyone, especially for seniors living independently but are not as mobile as they used to be. According to fire services in the UK, around three-quarters of the domestic fires in homes with over 65s are started by cooking.

Kitchen fires can result in significant injuries including burns and inhalation hazards. Additionally, homes and personal belongings can be severely damaged by them. To avoid costly repairs and replacements, it's important to take preventative measures, like keeping flammable items away from stovetops, ovens, and other heat sources.

Practising kitchen fire safety tips like installing a smoke alarm or investing in a monitored smoke alarm system could help elderly relatives to gain confidence and peace of mind. Additionally, it's recommendable to educate your loved ones about fire safety and have an emergency plan put in place for them. 

Getting a personal alarm to create a safe home environment

The safety of your elderly relative's home environment can genuinely concern family members, especially if they live alone. Taking proactive steps like getting a 24-hour monitored personal alarm to minimise fire risks and other hazards could provide peace of mind. Once the button has been pressed, the 24-hour Emergency Resolution Team will contact you to ensure you're okay and send help out if required.

Combining a personal alarm with smart home sensors, monitored smoke alarms or elderly fall alerts can add another layer of protection to provide more peace of mind, with the knowledge that you're doing everything possible to help your loved one safely live on their terms in the environment they are most comfortable in.

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

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Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure

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