Creating an Alzheimer's Friendly Kitchen

Main Body Space

Designing Ideal Home
The kitchen is an area that is filled with dangerous items such as knives and scissors but is also an area that can connect the dementia patient with some of the activities that they use to do. Even when a dementia patient can no longer prepare a meal on their own, if this is an activity that they use to do before the onset of dementia, they can benefit greatly when participating in this activity. It is therefore necessary to make the kitchen dementia-friendly.

The following are a few points to think about when making a kitchen safe for a person with Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Check your appliances. Remove all electrical appliances from counters that pose a threat. If it is in the early stages of dementia, you may be able to replace them with automatic shut-off appliances. Also, microwave ovens can be used by those with a high level of cognition, but should have easy step-by-step instructions next to them along with an explanation of what cannot be placed inside. In advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, most likely all appliances will need to be removed entirely in order to adhere to recognized Alzheimer’s safety measures.
  • Have safer equipment available. Consider having available knives and scissors designed for children so that the patient can also participate in cutting without hurting him or herself.
  • Decide about the control knobs. Depending on the individual, marking the off position in red for control knobs may be sufficient; however, in moderate or later stages, some individuals can only be kept safe by removing control knobs from the stove, oven and inside the refrigerator.
  • Keep the fridge closed. If closing the refrigerator is an issue, make the front at a higher angle so that gravity causes the door to swing closed. Keep non-food items out of the refrigerator.
  • Organize the cabinets and drawers. Keep cabinet and drawer contents simple with just a few options. Some caregivers find that removing cabinet covers can make it easier for dementia or Alzheimer’s care patients to find what they need. Placing pictures of what is inside cabinets or drawers can also help. A picture of cutlery placed onto a drawer will signal what can be found inside it.
  • Disconnect the garbage disposal. Occasionally, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may shove inappropriate things down the garbage disposal so you should consider whether to disconnect it as part of your Alzheimer’s safety precautions.

Dementia patients can help to wash vegetables while you do the cutting. They can help mix sauces or put ingredients together. This activity is not only a good form of exercise, it also is a good memory jogger - an opportunity for them to reminisce about their past activities. You can help them do that by making the kitchen safe for them.

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