Fall Proof Your Kitchen for the Elderly

Fall Proofing Your Kitchen for the ElderlyFor many, the kitchen provides a wonderful respite from daily life, especially for people of advancing age.  Most of us know someone in that situation–an aging parent, a close friend or relative who may be living on their own and encountering kitchen hazards the rest of us take for granted.  But for the elderly, these hazards may be real challenges.

One category is fall hazards.  There are many opportunities for falling in the kitchen, but most of these are preventable. Let’s take a look at some of tips to fall proof the kitchen.

Use a Chair with Arms

While there are some kitchen activities where it’s vital to be standing, much of the prep work can be done sitting in a chair. Use a chair with solid arms so that your elderly loved one can push him or herself out of it.

Eliminate Wheels and Wax

Some people might be fond of the “rolly chairs,” but they do not provide a stable surface from which to push oneself up. Having a waxed floor can also make a chair slip out from under someone who is trying to get up.

Minimize Your Kitchen

Getting rid of (or storing) unused items will leave room in the kitchen for the items that are used often, and there will be much less of a mess to clean up. How many plates, bowls, and glasses do you really need if you’re living alone? Are you planning on entertaining? If not, is it possible to pack up the unused pots and pans and give them away to Goodwill or another charitable organization?

Put More Light On It


Click the infographic above to see a larger version of the types of kitchen hazards facing your elderly loved one.

This suggestion is beneficial for the entire house. Take a few moments to install more light bulbs for your loved ones. Most kitchen fixtures have the ability to put in multiple CFC bulbs.

Kill the Spills

Clean up spills as soon as they happen. Take advantage of the many hybrid broom/mops that can be used to clean up without having to bend down and get wet or dirty.

Use Your Shoes

Slippers are great, but they also have a greater potential of slipping and sliding on slick surfaces. It might be inconvenient, but by using “regular” shoes you can reduce the potential of falling in the kitchen.

Prevent Unnecessary Reaching

Another advantage to minimizing the items in the kitchen is having everything at easy reach. The biggest causes of falls in the kitchen is overreaching. Rearranging the kitchen so that the most used items are within easy reach is also a great idea.

Use a Reacher

Reachers are dynamic little tools which do exactly as the name suggests. You can use them to reach high shelves and grab things. If reorganization still puts things out of reach, a reacher can help immensely. A reacher is also a very useful tool for those who cannot bend easily.

Ask For Help

fctc-online-bannerHelp may be a four letter word but it’s not a bad four letter word. If something looks like it would be too heavy or it’s on a high shelf, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance in getting it down. Doing this not only prevents breakage, but can prevent many kitchen falls.

Take a few moments to assess the safety of your own kitchen. You’ll find that there are some things that you can do to make it a little friendlier to those who are prone to falling. Also, be sure to take a look at the infographic above for more ideas about what you can do to fall-proof your kitchen.

About the Author

safetyBUILT-IN is the safety-leadership learning and development division of SCInc. We believe sustainable safety performance is best achieved through a core-values based safety culture, and that culture must be driven by leadership. Our safety-leadership programs are competency-based, and focused on performance outcomes. We believe in building capability and ownership into our client organizations—as well as sustainability into our programs—so that our clients can continue running those programs long after we’re out of the picture. Our emphasis is on building better leadership presence, better leadership communication and better leadership coaching by first building relationships of trust with people and learning how to engage them on the level of their core values and beliefs.