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How to design a dementia friendly kitchen

28th December 2017

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

The number of older people living with dementia is on the rise and people living with the syndrome commonly suffer from memory loss, a lack of mental sharpness and quickness, judgement, movement and dramatic mood swings.

As the UK’s population is growing older it is now not only important to make a home for older people more mobility friendly with brand-new straight stairlifts, but it is important to make a home dementia-friendly too.

If a relative suffers from dementia, but wants to stay as independent as possible, one of the most important rooms to alter first is the kitchen.

Kitchen safety is paramount and to help avoid accidents older people should consider making their kitchen dementia-friendly by following these easy-to-follow tips.

Cooker Guard

A cooker guard is one kitchen device that is certainly worth investing in as it reduces all risk of fire and the misuse of an electric hob or cooker.

Safety Systems Distribution sells cooker guards that help older people live independently and safely. The device automatically turns off the cooker if the user has forgotten to turn it off or if the temperature gets too high.

The cooker guard has sensor and control units with the sensor units being mounted above the cooker to monitor the heat being generated from the hob.

Users are able to pre-set cooking times and the guard will allow a cooking time between 10 minutes and 2 hours. If the temperature is too high or the pre-set time has been reached a local alarm is set off.

The cooker will then turn off until the cooling down period has expired, which usually lasts between 2 and 18 minutes depending on the cooker.

Keep the kitchen uncluttered

Keeping the kitchen uncluttered is another handy tip to help older people suffering from dementia.

Rachael, who runs the blog Dementia By Day and has written the book ‘When Someone You Know is Living in a Dementia Care Community’, says, “Designing a dementia-friendly kitchen is all about knowing the person you're caring for. Is this in a community senior living setting, or is this at your own house?

“Keeping items organized and the kitchen uncluttered is a great starting point for creating a space that someone with dementia can easily access.”

To learn more about how to declutter your home, read this helpful guide to find out all the benefits of just doing a little tidying.

Tray Trolleys

Older people with mobility problems who need aids to get around their home should invest in tray trolleys as they provide support just like a walker does. The general purpose trolleys also provide a surface where users can place plates and cups so they don’t spill.

The Lockhart Catering Equipment Tray Trolleys are perfect for people suffering from dementia as they can be put to use straight away.

A spokesperson for Lockhart, says, “These two and three tier trolleys from EAIS are fully-welded; meaning there is no self-assembly required and can be put to use straight away. They feature either 2 or 3 removable aluminium trays for ease of serving and cleaning. In addition to this, the castors are braked and non-marking - making them perfect for moving around a home and kitchen safely, and with a maximum load of 180kg they can stand up to most household tasks. For those less able or mobile, the handles on both sides and the 960mm height make them extremely ergonomic, allowing the user to transport food & drink around with relative ease.”

Make sure everything is within eye sight

Dementia sufferers often forget where things are stored and one way for carers or family members to counteract this is to make sure everything is within eyesight.

Rena from The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver, adds, “Try to recreate the kitchen from kitchens past. Set things up so that everything they need is within eyesight. Coffeemaker with coffee and filters beside it.

“I keep a cabinet just for mom. Everything that she uses is in that cabinet and she knows right where everything is.”

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are also a necessity for a dementia friendly kitchen.

Smoke alarms are vitally important as they warn people of potential fires and they have been a major life saving device since their inception in 1902. Safelincs have a huge selection of smoke alarms and most models come with a 5-10 year warranty and a test and hush button feature.

Carbon monoxide detectors are devices that alert people to the presence of carbon monoxide gas. The device prevents people from carbon monoxide poisoning by setting off an alarm when there are elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the air.

Older people or their carers can purchase a Dicon carbon monoxide alarm from Screwfix and this device boasts a loud 85dB alarm and is fully portable.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors need to be tested regularly and batteries will need to be changed as well.

Use labels and signage

Kitchens can be complicated places for those with dementia, especially as they may find it difficult remembering where everything belongs and could start putting stuff in the wrong place.

An easy way to solve this problem is to use signage or labels on cupboards so that it is obvious where everything belongs.

By doing this it means older people can easily group different kitchen items together and won’t get stressed trying to find a plate or a cup!