1. Maneuvering Room
Having enough space in a kitchen is essential not only for a mobility device such as a wheelchair or walker but also for the individual to prepare and serve food items. When designing or remodeling a kitchen, consider the recommended amount of aisle space. A minimum of 36 inches is recommended for traditional kitchen designs. However, 42 inches is the preferred distance. The maneuverability area should also be large enough to allow for maneuverability around open doors such as a fridge, dishwasher, and oven.
2. Location of the Kitchen and Appliances
When designing a home, think about where you want to place your kitchen. Some people prefer a kitchen near their garage for the convenience of unloading their groceries. Some individuals prefer their kitchen to be placed away from bedrooms and the living room due to noise during kitchen tasks.
3. Type of Flooring
Non-slip flooring is vital within the kitchen to decrease the risk of falls when liquids are on the floor. SlipDoctors (2021) is a company that has a material to go on top of the flooring to increase traction if there are liquids on the floor. Also, make sure your flooring is non-glare and discard any “throw” rugs. Glares from the floor can decrease vision and increase the risk of falls. Tile can be difficult to stand on for an extended period and be difficult for a wheelchair to maneuver over. Vinyl, wood, or linoleum flooring are the best choices for an aging in place individual (Aging in Place, 2021).
The refrigerator should be located where the most open area of the kitchen is. Consider having counter space by the fridge to allow you to take items out and place them on the counter. Also, consider various refrigerator features that increase accessibility, such as shelves that slide out or pull down, small storage spaces for snack items, location of temperature controls for feasibility to access, ample storage spaces in the door, and water and ice dispensers. An under-the-cabinet refrigerator and a preparation sink and garbage disposal are also excellent choices to consider to allow you to prepare and clean up vegetables and fruits easily (National Association of Home Builders, 2017).
Roll-out shelves and pull-down shelving are features seen in cabinets. Keep in mind that roll-out shelving is more practical than pull-down shelving since reaching for the pull-down shelf is more stressful to the body than pulling out a drawer. Drawers with different depths and turning tables are other significant considerations to increase accessibility to access items. Granberg (2021) is a company that creates cabinets and countertops that are moveable to allow for an individual to reach the items within the cabinet at a convenient height. The whole entire cabinet can be moved down at a push of a button. Within the cabinet, there is a shelf to allow you to bring the shelving unit down. For handles of the cabinets, lever-style handles are easier to use than knobs. However, lever-style handles are more costly, but if an injury or disease were to occur and affects your upper body, you would be able to access the cabinet with decreased difficulty.
Whole Sale Home (2021)
6. Storage of Food Items
When storing food items, make sure to keep heavy items at or below 48 inches above the floor. Lighter items can be placed higher than 48 inches (National Association of Home Builders, 2017). This allows you to grab the items appropriately without increasing strain on your body. Lighter items placed higher can also allow you to use an extension grabber to get the items if you are unable to reach them yourself.
The best place to install a microwave is at eye level. Some microwaves can come with simple controls, easy-to-read labels, and a loud sound to indicate your food is ready. The dishwasher installed at an accessible height can be beneficial to reduce bending. Make sure your dishwasher is installed to allow you to move around the dishwasher when it is opened. You may want to consider additional safety features before purchasing, such as options that would enable the appliance to automatically shut-off to prevent accidents and prevent an appliance from being unattended (Aging in Place, 2021).
8. Lighting and Outlets
Ensure that the outlets are within accessible reach for an individual to plug-in appliances. Lights should be appropriately placed where you are completing kitchen-related tasks. Under-cabinet lighting can help illuminate dark areas. Also, consider putting light switches near an entrance and exit of the kitchen. If you have two exit points, you should consider having two light switches at each end. The type of lighting you purchase can also impact the cost of electricity. Installing LED lights can save you money since it can provide the same power for a fraction of traditional incandescent lights' energy use.
9. Working Surface
The height of countertops is essential to allow for decreased fatigue throughout food preparation activities. The most comfortable working height is the height that will allow for your wrists to be slightly below your elbows. The standard kitchen counter height is 3 feet, but if you are taller or shorter than the average person, you may want to consider customizing your countertop to be what is most convenient for you. Be mindful of the type of countertop you are replacing or purchasing. A glossy finish to the countertop can create glares, which can be dangerous since vision is likely to decrease as you age. However, keep in mind that customizing the countertops can become costly (National Association of Home Builders, 2017).
Aging in Place. (2021). Kitchen of the future: Remodeling for comfortable aging in place. Retrieved from https://aginginplace.org/kitchen-of-the-future-remodeling-for- comfortable-aging-in-place/
Granberg. (2021). Height adjustable frames for wall cabinets. Retrieved from https://www.granberg.se/en/our-products/accessible-kitchen/lifting-systems-wall- cabinet/diago/
National Association of Home Builders. (2017). Design concepts for livable homes and aging in place (CAPS II). Washington, D.C.: NAHB.
SlipDoctors. (2021). Stone grip: Non-slip tile treatment. Retrieved from https://slipdoctors.com/collections/test-top-sellers/products/anti-slip-ceramic- porcelain-tiles
Whole Sale Home. (2021). Rev-a-shelf. Retrieved from https://www.wholesalehome.com/products/5372-21-fog-l?variant=34834931187871