PREPARING AND TAKING MEALS
Kitchens, like bathrooms, are considered high-risk areas given the likelihood of spills, the risk of burns and cuts, and the prevalence of hard surfaces. Here are some tips for making kitchens safer:
- Rugs and other floor coverings: Remove any unsecured rugs or mats as they can ‘bunch up’ and increase the risk of trips and falls for those who shuffle their feet. If mats are present, secure with double sided tape and test to make sure they stay put. Grip or non-skid tape is useful when placed in front of sinks.
- Access: Place commonly used cooking tools within easy reach at about the height of your waist. Generally, items should be reachable between your shoulders and knees to avoid bending or reaching. Consider use of a trolly to place food items which can then be wheeled to a table. Adjust the height of favorite chairs to reduce strain when getting up or down from them.
- Clutter: Remove any unnecessary clutter including any out-of-date food items. Clutter is especially dangerous when placed next to stoves and toasters. Kitchens often serve many purposes so proper organization is helpful to keep things in check. Consider grouping commonly used things together like bill statements, writing tools, newspapers, and books/puzzles. Medication is especially important and is ideally organized within ergonomically-designed pill organizers.
- Reminders: Kitchens are a great place to organize care routines. The following can be placed on walls or refrigerators: Emergency Contact List, Appointment Dates, Care Schedules, Medication Reminders including dose and instructions (e.g. take with food).
- Dementia: Dementia can increase the risk of injury in the kitchen due to repetitive or forgotten tasks and confusion over an item’s purpose. Kitchen cleaners can be mistaken for juice drinks, stoves can be left on and knives may be mishandled. Secure kitchen cleaners and poisonous items. Remove knives and other items of danger. Remove stove knobs and/or make sure they are clearly marked. Any safe item which is commonly handled by someone with dementia should be stored in a consistent, easy to access location to reduce agitation.