Being able to prepare food is an important part of staying independent at home for many people. However, the kitchen is one of the least safe parts of the home, with many dangerous appliances and tools that can cause injury. For those that have reduced mobility or coordination, something as simple as making a meal can pose a serious risk of injuries such as burns or cuts.
Additionally, many utensils and appliances are not disability-friendly. As people age or face new limitations, they might find that tasks that were previously easy are now significantly more difficult. Changes in strength or grip can even prevent some people from opening jars.
Thankfully, many products today are made to help improve kitchen accessibility and safety. This guide will be going over some of the smaller appliances and utensils that can be added to the kitchen for under $40 as an affordable way to improve the daily life of the person you care for.
While it may seem like an obvious addition, many oven mitts don’t actually provide adequate protection against high temperatures. Cloth mitts can only protect against direct contact with hot metal for a short moment before the heat seeps through. For someone that moves slower, this can mean that they have the risk of the heat burning their hands through the cloth, potentially even causing them to drop hot metal such as a pot of boiling water. In addition, many cloth gloves don’t have a good grip surface, which can make holding certain objects risky.
Large, heat-resistant oven gloves are an ideal addition to the kitchen. The large size ensures that both the hands and forearms are protected from hot air or accidental contact with heated surfaces. Proper material, such as silicone, ensures that the wearer is protected from heat seeping through even if they have to handle an item for more than a few seconds. Many gloves also have grip surfaces to help improve a hold on whatever is being carried.
These oven mitts by Sungwoo are not only Amazon’s Choice, but meet all the protective requirements of a good pair of gloves for handling hot materials. They also include a comfortable interior and flexible material for holding a variety of kitchen items.
Chopping foods is a very common and essential part of any kitchen activity, but cuts are a serious threat to anyone that has reduced manipulation ability. Many disabilities can make fine motor skills not precise enough to enable safe cutting. Something such as shaky hands can greatly reduce the independent ability one has to prepare their own meals
Cut-resistant gloves, however, provide a way to allow someone to still cut their own foods with greatly reduced risk of harming themselves. Many products are thick and protective against slicing, but still flexible enough to be used for food preparation or handling of kitchen utensils.
Not only are these cut resistant gloves by NoCry rated at level 5 cut resistance, but they’re also food safe and machine washable, meaning they are perfect for use in the kitchen. The product also advertises its usefulness in other activities such as woodworking or carving.
Please note that this product does NOT advertise a resistance to piercing, such as from a sewing machine, and should not be used for protection against such unless specifically stated.
Opening jars is a task that many people have difficulty with, even if they aren’t older or facing a disability. With the addition of weakened muscles or shaky hands, opening jars can be an impossible task for some people. While there are some manual utensils that can make jar opening easier, electric options ensure that anyone can open jars safely and securely, without risk of discomfort from problems like arthritis or dropping the item because of Parkinson’s.
This electric jar opener from Besmon features a magnetic grip to stay put while opening the jar, as well as an adjustable hold to twist off the lid of a variety of jar sizes. It’s advertised as being energy efficient and easy to use!
Can openers are an essential item in many homes, but the manual openers can become very difficult to use for those that have weak grips or shaky hands. In addition, some manual openers leave sharp and jagged edges while opening cans, which are a serious cutting hazard. Electric openers are very precise and allow anyone to easily and safely open a variety of cans. Many options are affordable too!
Hamilton Beach’s electric can opener is an affordable and easy addition to any kitchen. It advertises being able to eliminate sharp edges from opened cans to minimize any risk of cut injury, while also enabling anyone to easily open a variety of cans with just one hand.
For those that want a smaller and cheaper option, this electric can opener by GWolffy is a solid option. This device can still enable easy opening of cans for those with limited manipulation, without having to rely on grip strength that a manual opener would require. It also advertises being able to make clean cuts without jagged edges, and is easy to clean.
While not an obvious addition, motion activated lights are a very smart addition to the kitchen (or any part of the home) for improved safety and accessibility. Sometimes trips through the house are necessary late at night, and some people might struggle to locate light switches. Having motion-activated lights can improve visibility in areas that lack proper lighting, or provide a safety net for those that struggle to remember where the light switch might be. This can make sure any trip to the kitchen is safe and visible, even if it’s a late-night trip for a glass of water!
Cost: $19.99 for a pack of 3
These handy LED lights from VYANLIGHT are motion-activated. The undersides have adhesive strips for easy installation anywhere in the kitchen and can detect someone within 9 feet. They’re perfect for adding just a little more light to any darker parts of the kitchen, or helping make sure no one is stumbling around at night trying to fight a light switch.
A mezzaluna is a curved knife that is rocked back and forth to cut or mince ingredients such as herbs. Lately, they have been touted as an accessible alternative to standard knives, as they require less stress or precision while still providing cutting force. These knives can be a smart option for those that have weakened manipulation or shaky hands, enabling them to still have a degree of independence in their own food preparation.
This rocker knife from Checkered Chef is an affordable addition to the kitchen. The grip allows one-hand usage for those that have limited manipulation. It also comes with a protective sheath to keep the blade sharp and users safe from accidental cutting when retrieving it from storage.
Even with the right tools, it can still be difficult for some people to keep food in place while cutting. If food slips around, it can present a cutting risk if they struggle to keep what they’re slicing in place.
This specialty cutting board by AliMed helps add an extra layer of accessibility to food preparation. The raised stoppers or two spikes can keep meals in place for easy cutting without risk of slipping, so even chopping with one hand only is safe and accessible for anyone.
Dicing or mincing can be difficult even for those with fine manipulation, and for some people, it just isn’t feasible. To help maintain food preparation independence in a safe manner, vegetable choppers provide a means for those with limited precision. While the devices do require a degree of strength to utilize, many are as accessible as possible for those that are older or have a disability.
This vegetable chopper from Fullstar is affordable, easy to store and very safe to use. It offers four interchangeable blades for a variety of cutting options and an easy to use press for stable cutting. It even comes with a storage tub that catches the cut foods for easy storage or retrieval!
Those with shaky hands or weak grips might find that standard peelers are difficult to use, or easy to drop by accident. Thankfully, there are ergonomic peelers that can’t be dropped and provide increased accessibility when peeling foods while still remaining safe and effective.
This ergonomic peeler attaches to the hand with a ring grip, meaning that those with weaker grips don’t need to worry about dropping it. The handy tool provides an accessible means of easily peeling whatever food desired and even has a blade guard to keep the other hand safe. It’s small and dishwasher safe, making for a very convenient addition to the kitchen.