Kitchen Remodeling and Aging in Place

 The kitchen area in a home is vital for many reasons – some obvious and some not so obvious. Aside from being a place where we prepare meals, dispose of garbage and grab a quick drink, kitchens play a pivotal role in most of the major holidays, serving as a middle ground for families and friends to convene, share old memories, and – just as important – make new ones. In this article, we will take a look at some home remodeling ideas to make your kitchen friendly for family members of all ages and ability level.

As we (or our loved ones) age, we may find that our home no longer fits our needs. Aging in place is an aspect of home remodeling that focuses on making your home friendly for the aging, elderly and disabled.

Kitchen Remodeling Tips for Aging in Place

Below you will find some great kitchen remodeling tips for aging in place.

Doors and Accessibility

Accidents happen – it is a fact of life, and as we age, slips, falls and degenerative illnesses can all lead to an individual relying on a walker or becoming wheelchair bound. Because of this (or if you already find yourself or a loved one in this situation) you should consider making sure all doorways are a minimum of 32 inches wide and preferably with a straight approach (ie, no turns required to enter the door). If the approach is not straight and requires a turn, you may need a 36-inch doorway instead.

Additionally, you could also consider installing pocket doors or using swing away offset hinges to provide additional clearance space. For doorknobs and drawer pulls, install D-shaped pulls and handles – or even straight bar handles. This makes it easier for people with arthritis or joint issues to open and close doors and drawers.

Floor Options

Flooring is crucial when considering kitchen renovations for safety and accessibility issues. Falls are a real danger as we age and kitchens – like bathrooms – are very susceptible to slip-inducing factors (spilled food and liquids for example). Placing slip-resistant tile or even low-pile carpet are both great options, though most usually opt not to place carpet of any kind in the kitchen area. A cheaper option than installing new flooring is adding a slip resistant coating or applying texture – both make slipping less likely.

Cabinets, Counters, Dishwashers and Sinks

When it comes to countertops, cabinets and sinks, the name of the game is reach and ease of use. Dishwashers should be energy efficient and height-adjusted for comfort. Raising a dishwasher a few inches can save a lot of back pain when you load and unload dishes. Lowering your cabinets a few inches below the normal standard can make them easier to use and prevent family members from having to stretch to reach plates and items, which can, in turn, lower the risk of loss of balance and resultant falls.

Installing low-glare lights inside of, and underneath, kitchen cabinets will help eliminate visibility issues. Countertops should be adjusted for height as well. Having rounded edges and corners prevents harm from sharp or jagged edges. Like the other items listed above, sinks can benefit from being lowered or raised too (think about bending over to wash dishes). If you anticipate needing wheelchair access to the kitchen sink, plan on leaving enough space for the wheelchair to fit – most wheelchairs are 24-27 inches wide.