Kitchen Independence for Seniors

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As boomers age into seniors, one of the greatest fears is losing their independence and not being able to remain in their own homes. And whether you’re a senior reading this or a boomer looking out for your parents, here are several ways seniors can make mealtime a non-issue and stay independent.

Electric Can Openers

Gripping a manual can opener can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for someone with severely arthritic hands. The joint pain and swelling can be easily exacerbated by pressure, and stiffness can often be a big impediment in getting fingers to bend the way you want them to. But an electric can opener cuts down on the majority of the work, leaving seniors still able to for the foods they want, not the ones they can.

Cut Down on Salt

While sodium is a necessary mineral everybody needs, the vast majority of Americans get way too much of it and it leads to bad health problems. You should never be going above 2,300mg of sodium per day, or 1,500mg if you suffer from hypertension, diabetes, or kidney diseases. And while it can be hard to get to that number immediately, there are number of ways to get there fast. The worst foods tend to be processed meats (e.g. sausage, bacon, etc.), smoked fish, canned soups and vegetables, pickled products, frozen dinners, and pretzels. You don’t have to give up those foods entirely, but it helps to either look at the low-sodium versions or make your own version.

Watch the Stove

It seems harmless enough: you’re watching a movie on TV and pause it to put boil eggs so you can make sandwiches later on. It’ll take about 10 minutes, so you return back to the living room and unpause the movie. Except you get so wrapped up in your movie, you completely forget about eggs and rush back in the kitchen after half an hour, pot smoking and shells burned off. It only takes one serious slip-up in the kitchen and your entire home could be lost, and it’s so much easier to just sit in the kitchen and turn off the stove every time you leave. Make safety a habit.

Keep Knives Sharp

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the sharper the knife, the safer it is. And the more time you spend in the kitchen, the likelier it is that a knife cut is a matter of when, not if, no matter how safe you are. With super sharp knives, however, cuts are clean and easy to stitch up; dull knives have to exert much more force to cut, leaving the injury messy, deep, and requiring a lot more medical attention. And though it may seem obvious, never try to catch a falling knife; it rarely turns out well. Just let it fall, and save yourself a potential trip to the ER.

Although there are many shortcuts seniors can use to maintain their independence in the kitchen- and their homes- these are some of the top tips both in terms of safety and ease of accessibility.