For many people, one of the pleasures of ageing to retirement age is having time to cook, and for good reason. After all, cooking can be a fulfilling and creative activity that allows people to express themselves while also nourishing themselves and others, providing not just a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and joy, but also numerous health benefits.
Unfortunately, cooking can be dangerous for the elderly, particularly for those with mobility, vision, or cognitive impairments. Some common hazards include burns, falls, cuts, and food poisoning.
So here are some important cooking safety tips for the elderly.
Use Adaptive Cooking Equipment
Adaptive cooking equipment is specifically designed to help anyone with physical limitations or disabilities cook more safely. They make tasks like chopping, stirring, and even reaching easier, reducing the risk of injury.
Some adaptive cooking equipment includes:
- Adaptive cutting boards that have things like suction cups to hold them in place or a food guard to prevent food from slipping off while chopping
- Electric can openers that are operated with a push of a button, making it easier for individuals with limited hand strength or arthritis
- Talking thermometers that have a voice feature that announces the temperature of food, making it easier for visually impaired individuals to cook safely
- Stove guards that can be placed over stove knobs to prevent accidental turning on of the stove, which is particularly useful for individuals with cognitive impairments or memory loss
- Anti-fatigue mats that may reduce the strain on feet and legs when standing for long periods
Ask for Assistance
Besides safety reasons, asking for assistance or supervision from a family member, friend, or caregiver can turn cooking into a fun bonding activity which can reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation prevalent in the elderly.
- Ask a family member or friend. You can simply say something like “I could use some help in the kitchen, would you mind lending a hand?”
- If you need more regular assistance, you may want to consider hiring a caregiver
- If you can’t afford a caregiver, look for community resources as many communities offer food-related programs or services for seniors
Keep in mind that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it as long as you’re communicating your needs clearly and respectfully.
Ensure a Well-Lit Kitchen
A well-lit kitchen is one of the easiest ways to avoid accidents and injuries. Imagine trying to cook a welcome meal for your neighbor at your assisted living facility in a kitchen where you have to squint.
Here’s how to ensure a well-lit kitchen:
- Install bright, overhead lighting that illuminates the entire kitchen
- Use task lighting in areas where you need more light, such as over the stove, sink, or work area
- If your kitchen has a window, open the curtains or blinds to let in natural light
In summary, cooking can pose certain risks for seniors, but by taking proper precautions and being mindful of your abilities and limitations, you can continue to enjoy the many benefits of this great activity.