Kitchen safety for the elderly and people with dementia

The kitchen can often be the hub of the home for many families, so for an elderly person it can bring back great memories of family gatherings and meal times as well as familiar smells and sounds, however as a person gets older or develops dementia, the kitchen can become an increasingly dangerous place for them, especially if they live alone.

We’ve put together some top tips on ensuring the kitchen remains a safe place for your loved-one.

Label switches and control buttons

Depending on how much help the individual needs, it can be a good idea to label as much as possible in the kitchen, so they know what switches turn on/off what items and label control buttons or knobs on the oven/hob if the original lettering/numbers have faded over time. It’s also a good idea to mark the ‘off’ position in red.

Organise drawers and units

Too many options of canned goods, snacks and other items that you find in kitchen drawers and units, can cause confusion for the elderly or a person with dementia, so it’s important to keep their contents simple, with just a few options. You could even remove drawer and unit fronts to make it even easier for people to access, or place pictures on the front so the person knows what’s inside.

You should also move items that are used the most often into easy to reach units and drawers, so the person doesn’t need to struggle to retrieve anything.

Switch crockery for non-breakable/plastic ones

It’s inevitable that plates, cups or bowls will end up being dropped in the kitchen, causing them to smash, so it’s a good idea to try and replace with plastic versions. You can get lots of colourful and patterned plastic crockery these day and they won’t smash when dropped and cause potential injury and they’re much lighter for the person to pick up and carry.

Tape down cords

Due to plug socket placement in kitchens, cords from kettles, toasters etc can usually be seen, but they should be securely taped down to prevent any accidents. Also ensure they are kept away from sinks and oven hobs and there are no cords dangling over counter edges or across floors, causing a potential trip hazard.

Ensure smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are installed

There should be a working smoke detector/alarm in the kitchen and the batteries should be checked on a regular basis. It is also a good idea to make sure a fire extinguisher is on-hand and that the elderly person knows how to use it, should they need to.