If you need to make your home more accessible for an aging loved one, you may think that you will need to spend a lot of time and money doing so. The truth is, there are several home modification projects that you can pursue to improve accessibility that won’t break the bank. And, you’ll be able to make changes that are eco-friendly at the same time if you follow our tips.
- Alter Your Cabinets
For many Americans using wheelchairs, kitchen cabinets pose a challenge. They are either so high that they are out of reach, or they are so deep that items in the back go unused, but you don’t need to hire a contractor and go to the expense of remodeling your kitchen or lowering upper cabinets and countertops.
One way to change your kitchen cabinets to accommodate a person in a wheelchair or someone with limited reaching or bending abilities is to remove your existing cabinet shelves and replace them with pull-out shelves. When selecting your pull-out shelves, make sure they are the appropriate size for your existing cabinets. It’s also better if you choose pull-out shelves that are made of bamboo because it is a sustainable wood that is more eco-friendly than other shelving materials.
Another way to alter your cabinets is to replace shelves with pull-out drawers. Pull-out drawers are a good option for kitchens that have deep cabinets that hinder people from reaching clear to the back. They also make it easier for people to pull out pots and pans that are heavy; rather than needing to lift the pots and pans up and out of the cabinet over other items, people can easily pull out the drawer and select the cookware they want to use.
One other way to modify your kitchen to make it more accessible is to install pull-down shelves for upper cabinets. Pull-down shelving systems extend down to users and away from the cabinet for easier access to hard-to-reach items. Again, look for shelving systems that are made of eco-friendly material.
- Open Space Beneath Kitchen Sinks
While kitchen sinks typically are set into a cabinet to hide plumbing, those cabinets prevent people from a wheelchair from accessing them. By removing cabinet doors and shelves from beneath the kitchen sink, you can make it accessible without needing to hire a plumber to install a whole new one. Be sure that you have knee clearance of at least 27” high and 8” or 11” deep for users. Using your existing sink and modifying its cabinet is eco-friendly in and of itself because you are not requiring any new materials or discarding your current ones.
To make the opening more attractive, hang a curtain made of sustainable material such as bamboo cloth. If you lost storage space by removing a shelf from beneath the sink, place a tension rod between the sides of the cabinet and hang eco-friendly, organic cleaning supplies from it.
You also can make the kitchen faucet more accessible by moving it to the side to make it easier for someone to reach from a seated position. If you replace your faucet, choose one that features a single-lever handle that a person with joint pain or limited strength can operate with one hand. Better yet, install a no-touch motion sensor faucet that operates when someone places his hands under it. These faucets often use less water than traditional faucets because they turn on and off automatically to avoid wasting water.
- Organize for Accessibility
Sometimes, using smart organizing tips and techniques is all that is required to make a kitchen more accessible. Think about the kitchen tools and items that are used most often and place them within arms’ reach. Put your most frequently used spices on the counter in a spice rack. Place cutting boards, paring knives, and hot pads in the most easily accessed kitchen cabinets or drawers. By putting items that are rarely used away and making more frequently used items readily available, you will create a user-friendly kitchen.
When selecting organizers and racks, opt for those that are eco-friendly. Bamboo utensils, cutting boards, and canisters are ideal options, as are those that are BPA-free. You may find recycled glass canisters or containers, and cork is an ideal material for making trivets to protect your countertops from hot baking dishes and cookware. Some home cooks opt for porcelain cookware and dinnerware that is eco-friendly yet cooks food to perfection.
Finally, make sure you keep your kitchen clean and tidy. Messes can cause illness or turn into tripping or slipping hazards. If you’re pressed for time between caring for your loved one and work, consider hiring a housecleaner to come twice a month or so to help you with the cleaning. When the space stays clean and organized, everyone will be happier and healthier.
With a few slight modifications, you can improve the accessibility in your home in an eco-friendly, cost-effective way that makes the kitchen an inviting, welcoming place for everyone.
Image via Pixabay by TA9141985
Author: Michael Longsdon