For those with mobility challenges, such as the elderly or those with disabilities, an ordinary kitchen can present a few unusual challenges. Doing the dishes can become a big challenge if a wheelchair can’t reach the sink, and holding a pot under running water can be a struggle for someone with limited finger control or strength .
Modifying your kitchen for accessibility helps increase safety and comfort in the kitchen, while expanding capabilities and independence for all who use the space – whether you have a disability, or if you intend to age in place.
Most benches are 36 inches high, but 34 inches is a more suitable height for wheelchair accessibility. However, while 34 inches is a guideline, it is a good idea to measure for the specific person who will be using the counter. And if you have some money to splurge, adjustable counters are an even better option, since each user can move them to the most comfortable height whenever they need.
Keep workspace counters easy to access by those in wheelchairs by removing base cabinets. This way, the knees and toes can fit comfortably under the bench while the hands are at the perfect height for slicing, chopping and chopping. Don’t you just love the look of empty space? Create custom-designed pocket doors that match the rest of the kitchen and can be closed when not in use.
Make sure your sink is accessible to someone in a wheelchair, just like the work space counters. Leave the space under the kitchen sink empty with a space 27 inches high and 8 inches deep so that a wheelchair can easily fit underneath.
Because the wheelchair will be taking up space under the sink, make sure the drain is placed near the back of the sink. And don’t forget the danger of hot pipes touching the feet and fingers. Keep the temperature of the water heater low enough that it will not cause burns, and make sure that the pipes are insulated so that the legs are not hurt by hot pipes.
What about faucets? Touch control faucets are ideal, especially for someone who has arthritis or a similar condition. They are easily switched on and off, making it simple to manage the many steps of food preparation or dishwashing.
When considering the height of your cabinets, keep in mind the height of the wheelchair, and lower the upper cabinets so they can be easily reached. You can also consider adjustable cabinets that work with electricity.
If you have the space, build a peninsula with plenty of cabinet space below, keeping drawers and cabinets low enough for easy reach.
When it comes to storage, think about what is needed most often – from spices to utensils – and store those items in the easiest places to reach: on a low countertop, in a drawer that within easy reach, or in an easily accessible cabinet. accessible. Or consider putting those items on a wheeled kitchen cart. In this way, it can easily be moved from one place to another. You can also install pull-down shelves, pull-out drawers, drawer dividers, lazy susans, adjustable shelves, and more to make things more accessible.
Install devices about 31 inches from the floor so they are within easy reach. Find cooktops that have burners spaced so that reaching open flames is not a problem.
Raise the dishwasher 6 to 8 inches off the floor for easier access and less bending.
Use a side-hinged oven door, rather than a pull-down one. And install a large cutting board under the oven, so a pan can easily be pulled out and put to rest.
Find a fridge/freezer combo that is side-by-side, or one that has a pull-out drawer in the bottom for the freezer.
Lever door handles on any doors in the kitchen work much better for someone with arthritis. C or D shaped cabinet pulls are much easier to grip than traditional handles.
Make sure the door is a thresholdless door to prevent trips by someone who is unsteady, as well as to make maneuvering the wheelchair easier. Use a floor that is not very polished; instead, choose a slip-resistant floor.
Common kitchen challenges for people with mobility challenges don’t have to be so hard. These accommodations make maneuvering the kitchen much easier for everyone. Give someone freedom and independence by keeping these considerations in mind.
Chuck Winkles, is the president of New Life Bath & Kitchen in Santa Maria, California. New Life Bath & Kitchen is a family owned and operated kitchen and bathroom remodeling company serving the Central Coast of California.