For older adults living independently, the kitchen is both an important expression of personal freedom and a challenging workspace. Caregivers often worry about how to balance safety and happiness by allowing those they care for to prepare meals for themselves.
Thankfully, many kitchen appliances in the modern age are being turned into “smart” appliances. A smart appliance is a standard household appliance that has been upgraded with several intuitive functions to improve efficiency, safety and accessibility. They can provide an extra layer of accessibility and protection for those living independently.
Even if you’re not looking to upgrade with smart appliances, many older appliances should be swapped out sooner than later, especially if they’re a decade or two old. Appliance safety and usage is rapidly updated, so new options are always ideal.
This guide will go over larger appliances that can be upgraded for improved kitchen accessibility, as well as examples of highly rated options. If you’re looking for smaller upgrades on a budget, check out our article on kitchen accessibility tools under $40.
Most modern microwaves already have a myriad of protection features, so standard options shouldn’t be a concern for caregivers when considering household safety. However, smart microwaves have found ways to improve the quality even further with various upgrade features:
This smart microwave from Toshiba is highly rated. It includes all of the features mentioned above, as well as a humidity sensor to adjust heating power for optimal food cooking.
Please note that this microwave does NOT come with an Alexa, which is sold separately. To utilize the voice activation features, you will need to purchase an Alexa.
Kettles are a vital part of preparing a variety of favorite drinks, but they can present injury risk. Handling hot equipment can easily result in burns, even for the most careful user. Smart kettles, however, work to eliminate as many of the dangers as possible, as well as making the usage accessible for many with these features:
This smart kettle from Primens offers all of the features mentioned above, as well as visible presets for common liquids. It has a cool-touch feature to ensure accidental burns are prevented, as well as generally being eco-friendly and durable for many uses.
Stoves are often a source of danger in households, but still an important part of living independently. If you want to support aging in-place, finding safer stove options can greatly reduce the risk of accidents happening. Good stove features can include:
This cooktop from Profile is a highly rated addition to any home. The heating surfaces automatically adjust to the exact size of any pan detected on the surface and will automatically shut off when no pan is present. This can drastically increase the safety and convenience for users. It also has precise temperature adjustments with easy to read digital displays, which can help avoid overcooking as well.
While dishwashers certainly aren’t the riskiest appliance in the household, many older models aren’t optimized for accessibility or smart use. In addition to better features on newer models, many are also eco-friendly and save water or energy to reduce living costs. Some crucial features can include:
While this portable dishwasher might not be a full replacement for a standard dishwasher, the countertop option means this appliance can work as a great solution for accessibility. Daily dishes can be cleaned easily while caregivers can stop by to help out with larger loads with the standard dishwasher. It has a clear LED display and is easy to use, as well as providing a drying option for added convenience.
Having to handle many things in the kitchen can cause problems for some. Many disabilities or other problems can make it so something as simple as turning the faucet on can cause discomfort or frustration. This section isn’t specifically on a single appliance, but rather multiple smaller appliances that can be activated without direct touch to improve kitchen accessibility.
This faucet from Moen features a motion sensor that can turn the water on and off without having to touch the handle, as well as a pull down spray head to improve usefulness. While in the kitchen, handling food, pots or other items can mean hands are too busy to turn water on. Handling raw meats, such as chicken, can pose a dangerous problem if not cleaned properly. Touchless faucets like this one can greatly improve safety through cleanliness as well as general accessibility while being easy to use.
This touchless soap dispenser from Secura is a smart addition if you’re looking to reduce the amount of touch contact in the kitchen. It pairs well with the Moen faucet listed earlier. This dispenser is water resistant and has a volume control for how much soap is dispensed. This can provide another layer of convenience to anyone that struggles to use certain household items due to problems such as arthritis.