The kitchen is commonly known as the heartbeat of a space, whether it be a work space or in a home. We wanted our space to reflect some relatively easy changes and modifications that can be made anywhere to be more dementia-inclusive. In general terms, making the location and purpose of commonly used items clear through labels, and reducing clutter can be very helpful.
What we learned:
A. Consider purchasing a clean/dirty sign for the dishwasher to assist with ease of use.
B. With newer model appliances like refrigerators or microwaves, consider signs or labels to assist with cueing. We were able to create our own labels by drawing them, printing them, and then pressing them in laminating paper.
C. Using notes or a timer for reminders can be helpful.
D. Clearly label all cupboards and drawers with contents for ease of use and to eliminate the question of what is behind each door. Alternatively, consider removing cupboard doors.
E. Consider purchasing brightly coloured dinnerware to help contrast with both the table and food, or if more appropriate, a brightly coloured contrasting placemat
F. To help avoid cluttered cupboard, try installing extra shelves or hooks.
G. Keep cleaning supplies and dish soap out of sight when cooking so it is not confused with cooking ingredients.
H. Consider installing hardware under the sink to help with accessing stored items.
I. In case of emergency, it’s great to have an emergency plan on the fridge.
These are some of the things we were able to incorporate in our office space, but there may be additional measures that can be taken at home. Here are a few additional things to consider:
- Label taps hot and cold for easier identification; memory deterioration results in a loss of the knowledge of which is which.
- Store food in clear plastic containers to eliminates the question of what is in each container, and to prevent confusion and frustration.
- Consider installing scald prevention plugs that can sense temperature. These are useful to prevent burns in the kitchen sink.
- If buttons on appliances are not clearly labelled, label them. Clearly labelled buttons make the use of the appliance much more comprehensive and dementia-friendly
- Avoid decorations that look edible. People with dementia may try to ingest inedible things. They may not have the cognitive ability to distinguish between fake and real food.
- Mark date of purchase on food to reduce risk of eating moldy or expired food
- Consider installing a device to automatically turn off stove after period of inactivity.
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