Kitchens for Aging in Place

The kitchen should be located on the main level of the home. Key features for the kitchen are discussed below.

Refrigerator
Important aging-in-place features to have in a refrigerator are:

  • Illuminated water and ice dispensers on the outside of freezer door
  • Large numbers and letters on the dispenser display
  • Long, continuous grip handles on doors
  • Good interior lighting to improve visibility
  • Increased storage space in the doors, including room for gallon jugs
  • Narrower (side-by-side) doors to reduce swing radius
  • Slide-out and see-through shelves and bins to improve visibility and lessen required reach
  • Good energy rating

Appliances
Appliances are key to safe and efficient food preparation. Make sure appliances are properly placed and easily accessible. Look carefully at appliance design.

  • Information should be displayed clearly in an easy-to-read format
  • Switches, doors, and components should be easy to use
  • Make sure there is an auto-shutoff function
  • Look for good energy ratings

Cooktops
Cooktops cool much faster than standard ranges and have smooth tops, allowing for easy transition from the stove to the counter. They can be installed at a variety of heights for comfortable use. Some available features you should consider are:

  • Color indicators when the burners are on or still hot even if the cooktop is turned off
  • Front-mounted controls to allow ease of access
  • Self-cleaning capability
  • A well-lit display with large numbers and characters

You may also want to install a tap near the cooktop for easy pot filling.

Wall Oven
Wall ovens can be installed at a convenient height to minimize the amount of lifting and bending.

  • Mount the oven at a height easily reached by everyone who cooks
  • Consider installing the oven at a height so that an interior rack lines up with the adjacent countertop
  • Look for features such as plenty of interior lighting and an easy-to-read console
  • Consider a counter that pulls out under the oven, to provide a place to set dishes as they are removed from the oven

Microwave Oven
Microwave ovens can be installed at a height everyone can reach and that provides for easy transition to adjacent counters. Some models offer buttons for one-touch cooking, or they provide visual and auditory indicators that the food is done cooking or should be stirred.

  • Choose a model that is easy to reach, such as a drawer microwave or one that is installed at counter height
  • Consider one on a counter that pulls out beneath your wall oven

Dishwasher
Dishwashers are a commonplace luxury, helpful especially to those who might have difficulties standing for extended periods. Many models offer one-touch operation and have special cycles for small loads, heavy-duty loads, and other categories.

You will want to locate the dishwasher in a place that will increase ease of use. You may be able to raise the height of the dishwasher to reduce the strain of loading and unloading.

Look for dishwashers that are easy to use and have easily read, clear displays. Levers to lock the dishwasher door may present problems for some people.

Return to Chapter 9 page.