Deterioration in health as a result of getting older often arrives with the frustrating aspect of difficulty in carrying out household tasks; particularly cooking, just when comforting nutritional meals could make all the difference. Limited, painful movement resulting from arthritis, or limb weakness following a stroke might make it hard to chop, carry, stir, or generally get around the kitchen. For people living with Dementia—or with impaired sight, hearing, or sense of smell—the heart of the home can transform into a place rife with the danger of cuts, burns; and even fire and food-poisoning.
Is the solution not to cook? Pre-prepared meals are widely accepted to be less healthy than home-cooked food, and a recent article by the NHS concludes that ‘relying on pre-prepared food or eating too many snacks, sweets and ready meals can make it easy to consume too much sugar, salt and saturated fat, and not enough fibre, green vegetables and fruit.’ There is also the aspect of ‘food for the soul’. To deny a person the freedom to choose and mix ingredients and the creative expression of cooking can impact deeply upon their identity, joy for life and daily pleasure.
The following concepts are designed to help keep the chef safe and the kitchen cooking.
Specialist Chopping Boards
Designed for people with weak hands, or only able to use one hand, the Etac fix preparation board stand firmly upon the counter with friction feet or enclosed suction feet. Its jaws hold bowls and graters so they can be used easily, and food so it can be chopped and managed safely. A removable spike can also be employed to hold smaller ingredients. Etac also produces a cutting board for people with tremors or impaired sight. All sorts of foods can be sliced with a knife cutting straight and evenly between its guides.
Cut Resistant Gloves
Even with a special chopping board, accidents can happen. Cut-resistant gloves provide a high level of resistance against lacerations and reduce the likelihood of sustaining serious injury. It is important to note that they will not protect against burns and that they are not fully cut proof, and so care must still be employed whilst wearing them.
From specialist tin, can and bottle openers to kettle tippers, and talking thermometers and weighing scales, all manner of solutions are available for most tasks that can suddenly become tricky with age.
Perching Areas and Sensitive Organisation
By placing a high stool strategically in a preparation point of the kitchen, the chef can have a break when needed, and the risk of falls can be minimised. Ingredients and cooking tools stored in shallow easy to reach cupboard can solve over-stretching or reaching. Clear labelling can minimise ingredient mishaps or mistakes, and shiny surfaces should be avoided as these can reflect light and create glare to aggravate problems of diminished sight or confusion.
We are experiencing a revolution in assistive technology for the home. Whilst reports of robotic kitchens and robot sous-chefs for the elderly might seem a little progressive, Smart Home concepts can act as a crucial tool for family and friends wishing to safeguard a loved one at the same time as supporting their independence. Stove-top monitors can detect if a cooking area is left unattended and shut off any potential hazard reducing the risk of fire. Smart fridges can monitor food requirements and nutrition, and wearable devices can track health and notify relevant parties quickly in the case of an injury or fall.
At Snowdrop Independent Living we are always on the look out for new concepts and innovations. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your particular culinary challenge, and we will be happy to suggest solutions.