It’s the gathering place for most of us. Even in our senior years, we love our kitchens. But as we move to a point in our lives where we may need in home health care, it’s necessary to rethink some of the safety precautions for this part of our homes.

Here are 5 tips to creating a kitchen environment that’s inviting and safe for seniors—actually, for people at any age!

1. Print and Update an Emergency Contact List

No matter what age we are, we usually start and end our waking moments in the kitchen. We spend so much time there that it’s the most logical place to prominently display a list of emergency contact numbers and critical medical information.

Where’s the best place? Consider the refrigerator. It’s often the posting place for notes, anyway. The refrigerator is a ‘go to’ spot for emergency medical personnel, so clear a space and use a plastic page protector to keep everything together and secured to the refrigerator.

2. Have You Checked Those Smoke Detectors Lately?

Making sure they’re in working order throughout the entire home should be high on the list—but it’s especially important in the kitchen. No matter what age, there’s a higher frequency of kitchen-related fires than in most other rooms in your home.

Today’s technology-aided detectors can sense both heat and smoke. Some can even be programmed to tell the difference between everyday cooking smoke and a potentially serious fire. They also can be programmed to notify caregivers via smartphone messages if they’re activated.

3. Boo for Slippery, Hooray for Grippery!

Sure, they’re fun and cheerful, with all sorts of printed messages on them. We often hang them up as part of the kitchen décor. Unfortunately, potholders made of fabric are slippery. They’re definitely not safe for seniors, and they’re actually a not a very good idea for use in the kitchen for anyone at any age.

Replace cloth potholders with newer silicone versions. They’re made to offer better grips, plus they’re much easier to clean. Just rinse them under running water. You’ll also find silicone grips that slide over pot handles. They protect from burns, and they offer better grips.

4. Optimize Cabinet Heights

What happens with your kitchen cabinets are too high or too low? Seniors trying to reach for something may lose their balance. Falls in the kitchen can be bad news, as floors are often made of harder substances.

You probably can’t change the height of the kitchen cabinets—but you can install shoulder-height wall hooks for frequently used pots and pans, so there’s no need to reach up or bend down to fetch them from a kitchen cabinet. Consider rearranging what’s on the countertops to make room for larger, frequently used appliances.

Stop and give those kitchen cabinets some thought for a moment. It’s likely that contents can be rearranged to place frequently used items within easy reach.

5. Avoid Dreaded Slip-N-Trips

You don’t have to be a senior to take a nasty fall on a slippery tile or wood floor. These flooring surfaces just don’t offer much grip. They’re even more slippery if you’re wearing socks or soft slippers.

It’s the kitchen, so replacing this flooring with something softer, such as carpeting, doesn’t make much sense. You want something easy to clean. One way to make kitchen floors safer for seniors is to buy a skid-proof mat to place in front of the sink/dishwasher area where water may splash or spill. Overall minimizing areas rugs is the goal so choose a non-slip mat that fits close to the ground to minimize any risk of tripping.

Home care for seniors is our specialty. Matrix Home Health Care Specialists is a privately owned (not franchised) and run by a hands-on nationally certified nurse who specializes in gerontology and is also a Certified Case Manager. We’ve served Minnesota families for over 25 years, providing a continuum of care options from as little as 4 hours once a month up to 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Are you a professional senior caregiver? Contact us.