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Senior Kitchen Remodel Should Focus on Convenience

Kitchen design that is friendly to seniors
A light surface color for cabinets, as well as floors and countertops, will be easy on aging eyes and lower cabinets will minimize reaching.

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Investing in a kitchen remodel now could pay big dividends later. Adding a lower countertop may give more workspace options and accommodate a wide range of physical abilities. There are plenty of other possibilities, including lower cabinets, a raised dishwasher and front controls on an oven. Help at home is another good investment.

Q. My wife and I are both 72, and we’re having our kitchen remodeled. My wife has arthritis that makes it difficult for her to do many of the tasks she once enjoyed in the kitchen. What advice would you give?

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry said the trend began in new home building, particularly with upscale retirement housing and now is picking up pace in the remodeling industry. According to NARI, a kitchen that’s following the universal design concept is one that includes the following features:

  • Access to storage, closet and counter space should be easy and unencumbered.
  • A lazy susan or corner swing-out shelf or roll-outs are simple solutions for hard-to-reach cabinet items.
  • A light surface color for cabinets, as well as floors and countertops, will be easy on aging eyes.
  • Lower cabinets will minimize reaching, and a raised dishwasher will reduce bending. Oven controls may be placed in front to prevent reaching over hot surfaces.

Here’s another idea from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Typical countertops are three feet above the floor. Adding a section that's lower (about 30 inches) could give your wife more workspace options and can accommodate a wider range of physical abilities.

If you’re including a new refrigerator in your renovation project, the NFPA recommends you consider a model with side-by-side doors that can be opened without having to reach overhead. In addition, in-the-door ice and drinking-water dispensers help everyone, and save energy.

While accommodations can make a big difference, nothing can replace the human touch when it comes to help around the kitchen – so your wife might benefit from the assistance of a personal home helper. The local Home Instead® office hires CAREGiversSM, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, to go into the homes of seniors to offer assistance with meal preparation and light housekeeping.
Good luck with your remodeling project.

For additional information, visit the NARI Website at, or the NFPA Web site at

Last revised: October 11, 2011

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