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Graceful Living in the Kitchen
Written By : William Wolf 
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Kitchens for long-term use

Change is one thing we can always count on!  Our abilities also change.  For some of us, it will be gradual (do you wake up a little stiff in the mornings, like I do?).  For others, it might happen suddenly and dramatically.  Planning for these changes is definitely a SMART thing to do—just as smart as planning for our retirement accounts. 

Ideally, most of us want to function in our homes as long as we possibly can—and planning ahead is usually cost effective, as well.  However, most of our homes, if they are average, were built to accommodate the average 25-year-old, 6-foot tall male!  We may not fall into that category.

 In the Kitchen

A goal for the kitchen might be to increase comfort, provide us with ergonomic benefits for the back and joints and promote safety.  Here are a few ideas that might help us face any physical changes gracefully and peacefully:

 Safety Features to Consider

  • Use non-slip flooring – something with texture like tile, hardwood, or vinyl
  • Install extra lighting, possibly under counters or even inside of cabinets.
  • Purchase a stove or range with controls on the front or side.  Consider a side-hinged oven door.

Ergonomic Considerations

  • Raise the dishwasher 12” off the floor (to reduce back strain)
  • Raise electrical outlets a minimum of 18” above the floor.
  • Single-lever kitchen faucets work great—avoid twisting wrists, etc.
  • Use pulls, rather than knobs, on drawers and cabinet doors.
  • Use roll-out shelves in lower cabinets.  Also install full extension drawers, to get items out without bending, stretching.
  • Install rocker-style light switches.

Structural Features to Consider

  • Plan for 48” in any work aisle spaces, such as around kitchen islands
  • Create some cut-out spaces beneath countertops, for wheelchair workspace
  • Use a variety of countertop heights—some with 30”-32” height segments, for the ability to sit while preparing food. 
  • Leave an open-space under the sink using a rear drain for eventual wheelchair access
  • Build a “visitable” entry (one without entry steps) for one area of your home, for any visitors with disabilities.

 Some cabinet manufacturers are making specialty product lines now to include shorter cabinet heights, custom oven and dishwasher cabinets, 180-degree opening doors and roll-out shelving. 

 We can be prepared for change, and continue to live safely, comfortably and gracefully!

Find out more about: retirement
  About Author
  More from William Wolf
Graceful Living: in the Bathroom
Health : Senior Care : Safety

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