As we celebrate Home Safety Month, we’re looking at how you can adapt your current home to better meet your needs as you get older. This week’s focus is on kitchens, which is a popular renovation area for many homeowners due to its high return on investment and the drastic impact it makes on one living comfortably in their home.
Selecting a Contractor
Talk to a professional with experience in home adaptations for the elderly, preferably with CAPS certification. CAPS contractors/designers are Certified Aging in Place Specialists and can offer guidance on the best renovation options for you within your budget. There are numerous sources available to help teach you what to look for from a contractor and how to work with one such the National Association of Home Builders, Zillow, and Consumer Reports.
Evaluating Your Kitchen
Kitchen trends are shifting away from compartmentalized kitchens with separate dining and living room areas. This allows for easier maneuverability and better flow. Be mindful of your budgetary constraints as you prioritize the changes you want to make. It is recommended that you have an additional 10-20% set-aside in addition to your kitchen budget for any unexpected costs that come up along the way.
Look for problem areas, such as difficulty reaching items in certain cabinets, how easily you can use your appliances, how accessible your countertops are, and how much maintenance is required to keep up the surfaces. For example, granite and marble countertops are beautiful, but they are high maintenance in comparison with quartz.
Your Kitchen, Universally Designed
The following list are some of the most recommended modifications for kitchens to make it more accessible for all users. For specs on creating a universally designed kitchen, consult a designer or check for online resources such as this and this.
Features of a kitchen ideal for aging in place include:
- Induction cooktop
- Side-by-side refrigerator
- Accessible appliance locations
- Open or visible shelving
- Roll-out & lazy Susan shelving
- Lever-styled handles
- Varied counter heights
- Antimicrobial surfaces
- Touchless or single-lever faucets
- Adequate light
- Open knee space under countertop for wheelchair access
- Wider doorways & 36″ minimum walkways
- 5 foot turning radius for mobility devices
More examples of kitchens with good design may be found on our Pinterest board, Aging in Place. How have you remodeled your kitchen to help you age in place? How has that helped you?