In the modern lifestyle when people have very less time for their loved ones due to their busy schedule, kitchens are the crucial place for the seniors in the house where they can make delicious food to feed and spend quality time with their younger ones. However, the modern day kitchens are most of the time, grossly unsuitable for them forcing them to either mend their traditional ways or in extreme situations, abandon cooking entirely.
Ar. Prasanna Parvatikar & Roopashree Parvatikar, Principal, Cubism Architects & Interiors, Tirupur, described to Surfaces Reporter how to create the best usable kitchen for senior people.
What to watch for?
It's important to consider the "kitchen routine" of the senior persons of the house before proposing a kitchen design. Simplicity & Safety are Key Elements to a senior-friendly kitchen. A "Senior friendly" design would also suit anybody in a family.
The following would be key factors while designing a kitchen for them.
- Simplicity in Layout & Storage Design
The Kitchen counter’s height should be decided considering the height of the shortest person going to use it. An optimum height should be 30" for Indian kitchen.
As people become older, their physical fitness and senses decline. Care should be taken to overcome these attributes. "Seating provision can be made to carry out certain tasks" that take longer time like chopping vegetables etc.
As it is hard for many elders to raise their arms above shoulder, we can "avoid high storage for frequently used items". A storage cabinet at shoulder height would be easy to keep and retrieve stuff.
In other case, bending low also puts lot of stress on the back as some people may have a stiff back. Hence one should avoid providing very low height storage.
Providing Floor Mats where people stand for a long time can reduce strain on their foot and heels.
Storage units like "drawers & bottle-pullouts should be smoother to operate". Layout should be made simple. The distance between storage unit to preparatory to cooking area & cleaning area to serving area should be kept close enough for convenience. Innovative layout design is clearly required in order to achieve this. A dining counter attached to kitchen is advisable. Also, easily cleanable counter top & wall surfaces should be done.
Safety factor comes into a major play when it comes to kitchen for older people. Therefore some security considerations have to be made which in fact are usable in all situations.
- Avoid sharp counter edges & shutter handles.
- Always provide "Anti-skid floor surfaces".
- A well lit open kitchen not only ensures a safe place for elders as they come under vicinity of other family members, but also makes the cooking activity more fun for seniors as they can easily communicate.
- A smoke detector and an alarm can be placed to avoid fire accident.
- Proper exhaustion of air should be made especially in case of Indian Kitchen.
Advanced appliances such as food warmer, inbuilt dishwasher which also act as a storage unit, inbuilt Teppanyaki etc. can ease out hectic work in kitchen for elders. Provision for hot water can be made for washing vegetables & dishes. Garbage crusher under sink can be provided.
The distance between storage unit to preparatory to cooking area & cleaning area to serving area should be kept close enough for convenience. Innovative layout design is clearly required in order to achieve this.
CORRIDOR /LINEAR KITCHEN
The Corridor layout is best suited for single cook. In this kitchen floor plan, the workstations face each other on parallel walls, creating a small work triangle.
'U' SHAPED KITCHEN
The U-shaped kitchen offers continuous countertops & ample storage, which surround the cook on three sides. This floor plan is spacious enough to be divided into multiple work stations for multiple cooks without getting in each other's way.
The article appeared in the March 2015 issue of Surfaces Reporter magazine.
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