In a recent meeting with a prospective client we were told there are 6,000 people in the United States that turn 65 every day and that trend will continiue until 2030. Another trend we are starting to see is the desire of those people to stay in their own home or a home that is specifically designed to address their needs as they age. I’ve recently been through that with my parents. They did not want to move to a retirement home or care center and be warehoused. They insisted on living at home, being in a place where they were comfortable, familiar with and easy for family members to visit and stay over. When I designed this home for them in the late 90′s many of the features they would need as they aged were incorporated and for the most part has worked very well. But, there are additional features that are now available that make staying home, as they age, easier. There are design modifications that can be made to address memory care issues and features in both the bathrooms and kitchens that can make a signficant differnce in the ease and comfort of living at home during these later years of life. The following article address some of the features that are now being designed into the home. We recently visited a kitchen exhibit that was specifically designed for the aging. It incorporated a dishwasher that was elevated about 18″ above the floor on a base cabinet that made it very easy to place and remove dishes with out bending over or from a wheelchair. This is only one example of some of the changes we now utilize in creating living spaces of Universal Design.
Optimal Space Planning for Universal Design in the Kitchen
Let everyone in on the cooking act with an accessible kitchen layout and features that fit all ages and abilities
If the kitchen is the heart of the home, shouldn’t everyone be able to use it? With extra thought, the kitchen can accommodate all — from little ones baking their first batch of cookies to baby boomers beginning to deal with joint issues, to those already dealing with physical limitations. Kitchens require more attention than ever if we are to truly embrace the concept of universal design.
Universal design is simple and intuitive, with features and products that allow people of all ages and physical abilities to live comfortably and safely. For a space as busy and important as the kitchen, this can only be a good thing. Here’s how to adapt some basic areas in the kitchen using universal design principles.
for those using an assisted device. The double doors to this kitchen more than
If you can get rid of the door entirely, even better. This eliminates a common
obstacle of getting to the kitchen: having to push open or operate any kind of
door hardware while balancing armloads of groceries.
counters. This allows for more than one cook in the kitchen and also lets
anyone in a wheelchair or walker easily function without banging into cabinets.
In a U-shape kitchen, plan for 60 inches of clearance minimum between
opposing counters. This allows a wheelchair to have a comfortable turning radius.
Larger open kitchens and spaces seem to function best when obstacles
are completely eliminated.
If traffic passes behind a seated diner at a peninsula or island, plan for at
least 60 inches of space behind to allow passage for a person in a wheelchair.
by Magni Inc
Raised toe kicks allow greater foot and toe clearance for anyone
in a wheelchair, and let them get closer to the countertop or
workstation. The toe kicks should be a minimum of 9 inches high.
The kitchen shown here just about eliminates them altogether,
opting for contemporary furniture legs for support that are still
easy to work around.
Another alternative to freeing up toe space is to have wall-
mounted cabinets, eliminating the toe kick altogether. This
option allows for complete customization of countertop height
and toe space.
If someone is in a wheelchair, plan workstations that have
clear space below them to allow for easy reach to fixtures.
Knee space should be a minimum of 30 inches wide.
Ensure that any exposed plumbing is insulated, covered or
behind door panels to prevent any burns from hot pipes.
You could also have retractable doors closing off the space
below the workstation when it’s not in use.
Here the cooktop also has clear space below for easy access.
Adjustable countertops and cabinets are another great feature
to consider when planning your kitchen.Pressalit Care’s height-
adjustable lifting units enable you to create an optimal and
ergonomically correct working environment, allowing everyone
to work safely, together or independently.
Heights can be adjusted manually, with a hand crank, or at the
push of a button once it’s wired in by your electrician.
make the counter 30 inches high — the same as table height. This offers
optimal seating for everyone, regardless of age or mobility. Little ones can
shimmy up onto a regular chair, and older folk don’t have to hoist themselves
up onto a bar stool. A wheelchair can just glide on in too.
Include at least one workspace countertop at a height of 30 inches or less,
to accomodate someone sitting while doing tasks. Conversely, if the person
using this space is very tall, consider raising the countertop to a height that
will keep things ergonomic.
This extended lowered counter is open underneath and accessible from
both sides, inviting little ones or those in chairs to take part in the daily
cooking activities. Chairs or stools can also slide under the counter,
turning it into a makeshift snack bar.
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