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8 Kitchen Aids for the Elderly to Stay Independent in the Kitchen

8 Kitchen Aids for the Elderly to Stay Independent in the Kitchen

Living independently in one's own home to as late an age as possible is a goal for most people. While day-to-day life may produce certain challenges unfamiliar to younger people, it's worth remembering that there is an increasingly large range of innovative assistive equipment now available.

There are various pieces of equipment which can help with daily tasks in the bathroom or bedroom, and we've looked at some of those in other blog posts. Here we'll focus on kitchen aids and talk through some of the options to consider, depending on the specific issues someone may face.

Special tin and bottle openers

Arthritis and certain other conditions may make it difficult to grip and twist jars, tins and bottles in order to open them. Essential Aids' 'Openers' category features a number of clever gadgets which help with this task while reducing stress on the hands, fingers and wrists.

When opening tins of food with a 'can style' ring-pull lid, the 'Can Key', does a great job of doing the hard work for you. It is essentially a large lever which hooks under the ring pull. Once hooked, it's easy to use the curved shape of the Can Key to apply leverage and open the tin.

The 'Can Pull' and 'Ring Pull Can Opener' have different shapes, but work in a similar way for this type of tin can.

Traditional tin cans, with lids which require mechanical opening, can also be tricky if you have weakened grip in the hands. Standard tin openers frequently dig-in to the fingers so might not be suitable for many elderly people.

The 'Good Grips Chunky Can Opener' mitigates against this problem with the use of oversize, rounded components, designed to be easier on the hands. It is a great option for people with arthritis.

Also in this category, the electric 'One Touch Can Opener' requires no pressure at all to operate - opening tin cans at the touch of a button.

Opening jars, bottles and other sealed lids is another day-to-day task which can become difficult if you have reduced strength in the hands or wrists. Essential Aids supplies a number of kitchen aids to help the user grip lids tightly, reducing the chances of them slipping in the hands and helping with the twisting action.

Some of these aids, like the popular 'Anti Slip Jar Opener' work by dramatically increasing the amount of friction the user can apply, thereby providing an excellent grip on the lid. This particular device is effectively a large silicon rubber 'cap', which fits over the lid. The user then grips the cap and twists, hopefully dislodging the lid.

Other similar products include the 'Conical Jar Opener' and the 'Hand Grip Jar and Bottle Opener'.

Increasing leverage and grip are two factors which other opening devices exploit. The '6-In-One Multi Opener' for instance opens many types of seal with his various grips, clamps and cutting edges. This versatile gadget helps open hard-to-grip seals, open bottle tops, ring pulls and jars.

Essential Aids' range features a number of items which grip lids tightly and use leverage to twist them off. These include the 'Plastic Multi Opener', the 'Jar Opener Mighty Lever', the 'Multi Purpose Opener' and the 'Good Grips Jar Opener'.

Perching stools for the kitchen

Also useful in the bathroom and shower, perching stools are excellent for sit/standing at kitchen worktops. For people with reduced balance, standing up for any length of time to prepare food may be difficult.

Perching stools offer a high seating position and have a tilted seat. The idea is to 'perch' on the front edge, keeping your feet flat on the ground. The stool therefore provides support while leaving the hands free to prepare food.

This is preferable to a conventional bar-stool as these require climbing up to use for most people, unless they are very tall.

Perching stools, which are almost all height-adjustable, are also great for washing up at the sink.

Gripping food for chopping and slicing

Holding food in position to be chopped can be difficult if you have a hand tremor. In its 'Food Preparation Aids' section, Essential Aids features chopping boards which help with this task, by gripping items firmly in place so they can be chopped or sliced safely.

One such product, the 'Food Workstation' provides a multi-functional preparation board with various integral gadgets.

One important feature is the adjustable clamp which may be tightened to exert the necessary hold on items of food. It also has a small area of upturned stainless steel spikes, which again can be used to grip vegetables and other food items in place, allowing them to be chopped up without slipping off the board.

These two features are useful for people with hand tremors or those who have the use of just one hand.

The moulded high-sided corner guards are shaped so that slices of bread can be held in place, allowing them to be buttered easily. There are also a variety of attachments which enable easy cleaning and grating of food on the board.

Underneath, strong suction cups hold the entire board in place.

While the 'Food Workstation' has great versatility, other options in the Essential Aids range are more specific. There are a number of 'corner boards' whose sole job is keeping slices of bread in place for spreading, for example.

There's also the popular 'Chopping Board With Knife' which is a standard food preparation board with the addition of a large knife, attached and hinged at the tip. This allows the cutting motion to be kept under control - useful if you have the use of only one hand. It's also great if you're having difficulty using standard knives safely.

Non-slip mats

Preventing items from sliding around on hard tables or worktops is a problem which can be solved with the use of special matting.

High-friction rubber or 'Dycem' mats are made for exactly this purpose: stopping hard bowls, boards and other items from slipping. They're great for worktops under chopping boards but also at the dining table for plates and bowls.

Cutlery with chunky handles

Using standard narrow items of cutlery can cause discomfort for those with arthritis in the hands or fingers. Many people who experience hand tremors also find narrow knives and forks harder to direct than cutlery with larger, heavier handles.

To combat these issues, Essential Aids supplies a number of cutlery ranges featuring over-size, large handles. Some of these sets also have extra weight, again assisting control.

One of the most popular options are the 'Good Grips Weighted Utensils'. These have the oversized grips, are heavier than standard handles and have a ribbed section, making gripping.

The 'neck' of the cutlery can be bent into place, meaning the angle of the heads of the forks and spoons can be set to suit the user.

Also part of the Good Grips range is a 'Rocker Knife'. This has a blade with an exaggerated curve to its cutting edge, which is intended to be rocked back and forth across food, rather than the usual sawing motion. This action tends to be easier for people with limited strength in their hands.

L-shaped handles and other items

Bread knives and larger utensils are available at Essential Aids with 'L-shaped handles'. This design keeps the user's wrist in a more neutral position than when using conventional straight knives. This principle is also used in certain garden tools for people with reduced strength in the wrists, forearms or hands.

Kettle tippers

In Essential Aids' 'Kettle Tippers and Teapots' category there are a number of devices to make using these particular items safe, even for those with reduced strength or balance. With drinking tea a daily activity for people across the UK, young or old, these kitchen aids offer practical benefits.

The 'Wire Frame Kettle Tipper' is a popular item in this section. The kettle is mounted within the frame and a hinged bracket enables it to tip forward and pour out its contents as required.

The other models work in a similar way: some use a wire frame, while others are made from moulded plastic. What they all have in common is reducing the strain on the user as they tip the kettle to pour.

Another increasingly popular item is the 'Uccello Kettle' which has a design which makes it effortless handling boiling water.

The Uccello has a unique circular shape and a rotating cradle which allows the user to pour from it without having to lift any significant weight.

When filling this kettle, there is no awkward lid or spout to deal with. Instead, the hinged lid requires just a light touch to open.

Bibs and other items

While not necessarily aids for independence, Essential Aids' kitchen section also has a range of adult bibs. These are excellent for use either by the person eating and drinking or the longer disposable ones are often used by carers. Adult bibs are available in washable versions or as disposables.

Other kitchen aids which might be useful include trolleys which help transport plates, bowls and other items from room to room without fuss. These are available in a number of designs, with large lockable caster wheels and one or two shelves.

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Sally Madeley-Carr, OT

Sally Madeley-Carr, OT

Sally qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1996 and is a well-respected professional in the field of rehabilitation equipment and living aids. She has worked in private practice and within the NHS, developing a broad experience with adults and children. Click here for Sally's registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. The HCPC regulates health, psychological and social work professionals in the UK.

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