Move over living room, you are no longer the gathering place of the home!
In today’s fast-paced world, the kitchen takes first place! For this reason, the kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the home,” and for good reasons. Laughter, family dinners, special occasions and time shared together all happen in the kitchen. With that said, it’s important to make sure your kitchen is a safe place. This task is especially important if you’re a senior living alone or if you take care of a senior.
We spend so much time in our kitchens. Hence, we have to acknowledge that it’s very possible that an accident might happen here. The risk of an accident increases for senior adults. Williams Loving Care would like to bring to light three common kitchen safety issues for seniors, and then discuss how to make the kitchen a safer place:
1) Kitchen Fires
2) Foodborne Illnesses
3) Risk of Falling
Before diving in, why do we say there’s a high risk of injury just hanging out in the “heart of the home” for seniors? Well, here are three stats that relate to senior adults and kitchen safety:
1) Three out of ten house fires start in the kitchen. That’s more than any other room in the house according to The National Fire Protection Association.
2) 76 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year, including 5,000 fatal cases according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3) Along with bathrooms, kitchens are areas are high on the charts for falling because items are out of reach, floors can be slippery, meals are carried to eat in other rooms, and if you have pets… there are usually little paws laying at your feet or behind you.
To combat the above safety hazards, here are some ways for seniors to make their kitchen a safer place to avoid unforeseen accidents:
Fire Prevention- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that people over the age of 65 have a 2.7 times greater risk of dying in a kitchen fire than the general population. The primary cause of kitchen fires is unattended food – seniors should never leave the kitchen when food is cooking. Since so many seniors enjoy cooking, automatic shut-off devices are a great tool to help seniors with memory issues. Avoid wearing loose clothing (sleeves) while cooking, and keep kitchen towels and potholders away from the stove- these things can catch fire easily if too close to the stove. A common cause of kitchen fires in older homes are faulty electric outlets. To cut down on this, a qualified electrician should check the wiring and outlets to ensure that they are safe and up to code.
Foodborne Illnesses- As we age, so do our immune systems. This makes illnesses harder to fight off- think about food poisoning and the toll that takes on one’s system. Because of the ways our bodies change when we get older, foodborne illness can become a much more serious issue. This can be prevented by properly storing food, checking fridge temperatures often, properly reheating food, cleaning old items out of the fridge and pantry often, and checking expiration dates.
Risk of Falling- A senior adult should never resort to using a stepping stool to grab for items that are out of reach. When organizing the kitchen, keep essential items within arms reach away. Items that are not used often can be stored higher or lower to keep the risk of losing balance low. It is critical to keep cooking tools within reach. The kitchen area should be well lit and avoid clutter on counters. The heaviest objects should be stored at waist level so that it’s easy to use two hands while moving the items. Other major issues that you’ll find in the kitchen are water spills. This includes spilled water from the sink, and leaking refrigerators and pipes. Spilled water can make kitchen floors slippery, so adding mats and checking water sources often is important. It’s also important to simply pay attention to what you’re doing. Don’t walk around while looking at a phone, or book. Do look straight ahead and be intentional with your movements.
Williams Loving Care can help. About one-quarter of Americans over age 65 need help with everyday activities such as eating, cooking, and getting in and out of bed or a chair. We are an independently owned, faith-based company. Our educated caregivers can help with these and other tasks while engaging clients in activities that improve their quality of life. Our caregivers can also provide support for physician-approved diet, exercise plans, transportation, and can assess a home for safety issues and reducing fall hazards.
The kitchen should be a joyful place. After all, it is the heart of the home! Be intentional about minimizing the risk of accidents or illness. Being safe in the kitchen is more than just common sense, it’s essential to seniors’ vitality. Revisiting safety tips for the kitchen is never a waste of time. For more information on how we can help, contact us today at 334-549-4009.
Aging Care “Kitchen Fires: Make Cooking Safer for Seniors” Web. 2012.
Food and Drug Administration. “Food Safety for Older Adults.” Web. 2011.
U.S. Fire Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Fire Safety for Seniors.” Web. 2020.
The National Fire Protection Association. “Serve Up Safety in the Kitchen.” Web. 2020.