“Seniorizing” a Home –Part 2: Kitchen and Bathroom

“Seniorizing” a Home –Part 2: Kitchen and Bathroom

Jim Lipman

GoFind Inc.

In an earlier blog I covered tips for ensuring that a home is a place where seniors can live comfortably and safely, but purposely left out ideas for “seniorizing” the kitchen and bathroom, the rooms where most accidents to elders occur. These rooms are covered in this blog.

Kitchen

  • If you use a step stool to reach objects on higher shelves, make sure it has a bar on top to hold on to. A stepstool with wide steps is also a good idea. Keep items you use often on the lower shelves in the kitchen – waist high is a good location.
  • Never leave a flammable object, such as a towel or cookbook, on a cooktop burner when it is off. It is too easy to accidently turn the burner on without checking if there is something on it that could catch fire.
  • Have a non-skid mat or rug in front of the sink. The mat can soak up spills, thus preventing water from pooling on the floor and creating a fall hazard.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in a handy, easy to get to location, for use on small cooktop or oven fires. Make sure the senior knows how to operate the extinguisher.
  • If you have a CO (carbon monoxide) detector near the kitchen, make sure it is at least 15-20 feet from a gas oven or cooktop to prevent false alarms. Of course, the kitchen should have a smoke detector.
  • While not part of home modifications, discuss “safe” clothes to wear while cooking with the senior. This means not wearing robes or other clothing with long, loose sleeves since they can catch fire against a cooktop or oven flame or hot electric coil. If long sleeves are worn, they should be rolled up.

Bathroom

  • Shower and bath tub surfaces can be very slippery. Put a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick non-slip strips on the floor of each. If the senior has trouble standing in the shower, place a shower chair inside and make sure the chair is slip resistant with rubber caps on the legs. 
  • Make sure essential shower items (soap, shampoo, etc.) are in easy reach. If the shower has a window, place them on the window sill. A rack that hangs from the shower head is also a good place to put these items.
  • Install grab bars next to the tub, inside the shower and next to the toilet. If not needed at this time, they might be down the road.
  • Some seniors have difficulty lowering and raising themselves from the toilet. Get a raised toilet seat to make it easier for them – some come with grab bars attached
  • Have a night light in the bathroom. This is particularly important if the senior has difficulty seeing to turn on the bathroom light
  • Consider in which direction the bathroom door swings. A door that swings outward is preferable since it makes it easier for emergency personnel to reach someone who may have fallen against the door.

Many of the suggestions I have given here are not limited to homes with seniors, but in many cases apply more universally for many of us.

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