Cooking Safety While Aging in Place

One of the benefits of aging in place is having the freedom to prepare your own meals. However, cooking comes with various hazards for seniors and requires extra precaution. Here, the professionals at Avila Homecare details ways to stay safe while cooking in the kitchen.

Fire Safety

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, seniors 65 and older are two-and-a-half times more likely to suffer life threatening or fatal injuries in kitchen fires than the rest of the population. This is for a variety of reasons, including hearing loss, memory problems, inability to lift heavy pots and pans and diminished ability to make quick decisions, among other factors.

When cooking, it is vital to never leave the kitchen; if you must, turn off the oven and all burners. For those with memory problems, automatic shut-off devices that program kitchen equipment to automatically turn off after a set period of time can be invaluable.

Be sure to wear form-fitting clothing while cooking, as loose clothing can easily catch flame. Turn pot handles inward to prevent knocking them over, and invest in pots and pans with double handles—they’re easier to carry and move, which prevents contents spilling into burners. If frying food in oil, investing in a splatter screen can prevent grease fires from starting. Always keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and educate yourself how to properly use it. Keep a phone close when cooking, just in case you need to call 9-1-1.

Other Important Considerations

Falls and other injuries are also serious concerns in the kitchen. To mitigate those concerns, clean up spills as soon as they happen, and wear non-skid shoes, which can help prevent slips. Store heavy items no higher than waist height, and always use two hands, lifting from the legs rather than back. Invest in plastic kitchen items, instead of glass or metal—these items are often lighter, and won’t shatter when dropped. Finally, clear clutter from countertops, which can easily fall over and become a tripping hazard.            

Knives and other sharp implements also account for many kitchen-related injuries. Store knives in knife blocks, or invest in knife covers—do not store in kitchen drawers, as sharp edges will be left exposed. Practice knife safety when cutting food: hold knives by the handle with the tip down, use a cutting board, and cut downwards, away from your body. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning knives to prevent slicing a finger, and do not leave knives in soapy water to soak: it’s bad for the knife and you won’t be able to see where the sharp edges are.

By practicing these safety tips, cooking can be a fun and easy experience for any senior. With that being said, everyone can use a little help sometimes. If you would like an experienced, dedicated caregiver to help with the cooking, cleaning or just to provide a little companionship to further enhance your aging in place experience, contact us today!

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