Deciding to spend your retirement and senior years under the roof you bought and helped keep up over the decades is an excellent decision, even though there is nothing wrong with moving to a senior facility either. As a vibrant, healthy, and self-sufficient boomer, you can adapt your living environment and design your home for aging in place.
However, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to actually optimize the interior of your home instead of believing that the current design will serve you just as well in your senior years. Today, we’re going to go over all of the key points of designing a boomer-friendly kitchen that will help you live out your silver years in health and happiness. Here’s what you should do.
Designing a boomer-friendly layout
First things first, consider revising the current layout of your kitchen. Ask yourself if the current floorplan offers enough flexibility, maneuverability, and safety. Remember to analyze the layout not by your current standards and living requirements, but your long-term needs. When you age, no matter how fit and able you might feel, there are numerous safety precautions you need to take in order to prevent a nasty fall, for example.
This begs the need to adapt the floorplan so that it allows you to reach everything with ease, adjust the height of all amenities, widen the doorways to allow for wheelchair use, and install the right kind of flooring. Consider safety rails as well and don’t forget to cover all sharp corners with foam coatings.
Flooring considerations for extra safety
Flooring, much like the lighting (more on that in a bit), should be one of your top priorities when designing a functional, senior-friendly kitchen. The floors should be easy to clean without you needing to kneel down or bend over, and durable enough to withstand the test of time. Most importantly, though, your kitchen floor should provide enough traction to prevent slips and falls.
Avoid floor coverings of any kind, including rugs and carpet tape, and instead choose non-slip tiles, or wall-to-wall low pile carpet. These options are easy to clean and maintain, and they will provide more safety and protection, thus supporting healthy aging in a very literal sense. If the time ever comes that you need a wheelchair, then vinyl and linoleum are your best options.
Creating the perfect lighting scheme
The lighting scheme you currently have in your kitchen might work just fine for now, but as you age you will notice an increase in safety risks, as well as an increased need to illuminate certain parts of the kitchen even more. Don’t worry, it’s completely natural, and it’s something that Australian baby boomers have been working with for some time now, so why not follow their example.
Down in Australia, senior residents will work closely with their preferred electrician from Inner West to create a new, more functional lighting plan for their kitchen – one that includes task lighting and light strips, and programmable overhead lighting to illuminate the space as much as they can. But it’s not just about the brightness of the setting, it’s about designing the lighting scheme just right so that you see what you’re doing at all times. By doing this yourself, you will have prevented many a nasty cut while cooking, and more dangerous scenarios as well.
Eliminating all potential hazards
While we’re on the subject of functionality and safety, it’s important to identify all of the potential hazards in your kitchen in relation to your future needs and lifestyle, and then eliminate them one by one while you’re still a young boomer. So, you’ve rearranged the layout, you’ve updated the flooring, and optimized the lighting – what else is there? Here’s a quick list:
- Place all knives in covers and knife stands.
- Put your essential dishes, pots, and pans, in the lower cabinets.
- Put non-slip tape in the cabinets and on other surfaces where items could slip.
- Label every cabinet, shelf, and drawer.
- Install a smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher.
- Place a 911 emergency button in various locations throughout the room.
If you’ve decided to age in place, then you need to adapt your living environment to suit your needs in the years to come. Start with the kitchen and use these tips to make it a safer place where you and your family can keep making lifelong memories filled with happiness and zeal.
This guest post was graciously provided by Robert Clayton. Robert is a blogger with a degree in engineering based in Sydney. His interests and passions include DIY, green technologies and home improvement. He also loves good food, music, dogs and enjoys spending time by the ocean. He’s a regular contributor for Smooth Decorator, An Australian Home improvement website.