Cooking can be an empowering activity for someone with mobility issues, as it allows them to retain their independence, and cook delicious meals for both themselves, and their guests. However, it can sometimes be a struggle.
Here, Manage at Home discuss the ways in which you can adapt your or your loved one’s kitchen, so their mobility issues don’t cause them dinnertime dread!
Don’t Take Over
If we see a loved one struggling, it can be all too easy to take over and “help” them, but in reality, it could be the last thing they want.
Respecting their wishes and taking a step back to let them cook a meal – or help you out – is one of the best things you can do; as it means they can be independent.
To help out, consider aspects of the cooking process that may be harder for them to do – for example, buying the ingredients. Why not let them know you’re popping to the shop, and see if they would like you to pick up any items for them? That way you’re helping, but you’re letting them get on with the important stuff: cooking!
If your loved one is planning on making a meal – especially if it’s for a group of people – then why not make a list of everything they need? You can then help to get everything out and place them on the kitchen counter, allowing for easy access.
Ensuring the kitchen is clutter-free, with non-essential items stored away, and heavy appliances pushed to the back of the counter will create a safe space for your loved one to cook, as they won’t have to navigate through the mess or constantly move items when they’re trying to make a meal.
Install Lower Countertops
If your loved one is in a wheelchair, or needs to sit down when cooking, then installing lower counters in the kitchen is a great idea. Not only will it allow for easier access to food and appliances, it’s safer too, as it reduces the risk of them accidentally knocking anything on themselves.
The recommended height for kitchen counters for wheelchair users is 28 inches (the average counter is 36 inches tall). Alternatively, if your loved one is living with you or someone who is more mobile, then you may prefer to install motorised work surfaces instead, which can be raised or lowered depending on who is using them.
Also, one small tip for wheelchair users is to have a big pack of disposable gloves to hand; eliminating the hygiene issues that come with touching the wheels and then the food.
There are so many appliances out there that make cooking easier for those with mobility issues – and the best thing is, is they’re affordable too.
You can find everything from easy grip slicers and knives, and colour coded measuring spoons, to self-cutting scissors, power operated tin openers, and bread boards with slots to make cutting even slices a breeze.
Having a small push trolley in the kitchen can drastically help too, as it means your loved one can easily carry items they need across the room in one go.
It’s important to ensure that items in your loved one’s kitchen can easily be accessed; placed in cupboards that are within arm’s length. For anyone who suffers with mobility issues, having to reach up high, or bend over to retrieve something that’s in the back of a cupboard could result in a nasty fall.
Hanging units with no legs can be installed in the kitchen, which is especially ideal for wheelchair users, as they can place their legs in the space, enabling them to get as close to the cupboard as they need.
Higher cupboards can be adapted too, by installing units that can be pulled out and lowered. They look just like standard cupboards, so no one would ever even know they’re any different.
Anyone with a loved one who has mobility issues will know how important to them it is to retain their independence. Cooking and enjoying meals is a part of daily life, and it doesn’t need to be eliminated – these five tips will make any kitchen easier for anyone with mobility issues to navigate, so they can continue to enjoy cooking.