Something as simple as removing a pot from the stove can be a major roadblock to someone with special needs. These devices can make cooking more appealing.
Rick is 75 years old and lives alone. He uses a wheelchair, so reaching into the oven or onto a back burner of the stove isn’t just hard to do, it’s hazardous. Rather than letting himself be frustrated by trying to prepare a meal, Rick prefers to order out or microwave a frozen dinner.
Elizabeth had a stroke and has limited use of her right arm. Cooking has become an overwhelming task. Even eating is a chore. Simply cutting her meat, taking a hot pan from the oven or opening a can seems impossible. Like Rick, Elizabeth would rather substitute nutrition for convenience by eating quick, easy meals.
Although good nutrition is crucial to Rick’s and Elizabeth’s health, their disabilities have prevented them from getting the nutrients they need.
Here’s the good news. There are a range of kitchen devices that can assist people with almost any disability. These devices are usually sold at medical supply stores, hardware stores or gourmet kitchen shops. Many of these products are inexpensive. Some may even be covered by Medicare, Medicaid or your private insurance.
Before you buy anything, consult with an occupational therapist. He or she can make suggestions about what types of devices might help you.
Making eating easier
Something usually taken for granted – using a plate, mug or piece of silverware – can be especially hard for people with certain conditions. These include arthritis, tremors, limited range of motion, poor coordination and limited ability to grasp objects. But there are products that can take a lot of the aggravation out of sitting down to a meal. They include:
- Knives, forks and spoons that swivel. These help those with trouble moving their wrists, arms or fingers.
- Extension spoons for people with limited range of motion.
- Utensils that bend to the right or the left.
- Rocker knives for people who cannot use both hands.
- Automatic feeding devices for people who cannot hold utensils. These are controlled by chin, hand or foot switches.
- Utensils that can be attached to the palm of the hand and assist people with poor finger grip.
- Curved dishes that help guide food onto utensils.
- Non-slip dishes that help push food onto utensils.
- Cups with two handles for people who have trouble grasping objects.
- Regular pizza cutters that can be sharpened and used to cut food.
Making cooking easier
Something as simple as taking a pot off the burner can be a real chore for people with special needs. These gadgets can help make cooking less complicated.
- Clip-on handles that help grip pots.
- Pizza-shop shovels for taking pans from the oven.
- Heat-proof wheelchair lapboards for transporting food from oven to table.
- Wire frames with suction cups that attach to the stove. These steady pots during stirring.
- Tipping platforms for teapots. These allow users to tilt the pot and fill a mug without picking up the teapot.
Getting around the kitchen
The kitchen can be an uninviting place if you have a disability. But these tools can help make your kitchen less intimidating:
- Reachers. These devices have long handles with grips at the end that can help you grab out-of-reach items.
- Lazy susans or roll-out shelf trays. Installing these in cabinets permits easier access to stored items.
- Adjustable stools. These let the user remain seated while working in the kitchen.
- Wall racks. Pots, pans and other frequently-used objects can be placed on these racks for easy access.
If you’re in the market for some new appliances, check with manufacturers before you buy. Some of them offer specially designed features for people with disabilities.