You look at things with fresh eyes after a dementia diagnosis. One of the scariest areas is the kitchen, imagining what can go wrong! One of the quickest ways to help make a kitchen safe is to install dementia friendly kitchen appliances & devices.
Dementia friendly kitchen appliances & devices can be used in the home to help retain independence, reduce risks and hazards in a kitchen. Remember, dementia isn’t just about memory. It affects coordination, eyesight, thinking, reasoning and judgement.
For a more detailed look at what other measures that you can take including flooring, lighting, etc then you can read more here in ‘How to make the kitchen safe for dementia?’
This article focuses on making your kitchen safer by choosing to install dementia friendly kitchen appliances & devices.
Electric Cooker Shut Off devices
Electric cooker shut off devices use sensors to reduce fire risk by detecting heat, smoke alarms or an unattended appliance.
You can set a timer for how long a device should be left unattended, and after that period of time, an alarm will go off, and the cooker will shut down.
Otherwise, the sensor can detect the temperature, smoke coming from a cooker, or even be triggered by your fire alarm and then will shut down.
Here’s a test kitchen demonstrating how these cooker shut off devices work
These are not cheap, but if you have concerns about cooking left unattended, then these might be an option -e.g. Unicook Airis-C Stove Guard
Locking Cooking Valve – Gas Cookers
This device is FREE! It can be connected to your gas cooking pipe and effectively cut off your cooker’s gas supply.
These can be used so that the cooker is only used during set times so that the person using the cooker doesn’t unintentionally cause a gas leak. It is particularly useful if someone with dementia is likely to turn the gas on and not ignite or forget to turn it off.
It does mean that a caregiver or family member would need to operate the valve, but it could give you peace of mind, for example, to turn it off at night or when you are out.
You should consider the impact of this on your loved one. Using a cooker and finding it doesn’t work will be confusing. Here using a notice board to explain may help reduce confusion for them.
My worry is without backup measures like that. You could impact their confidence and, thereby, their independence.
Combination Microwave Oven
Microwaves are quick, easy to use and familiar. You can use simple microwaves with dial controls to heat or cook ready prepared foods, or you can splash out and purchase a combination microwave oven.
Combination microwave ovens don’t just heat or defrost. They can grill, roast and bake as well. Some have automatic sensors to tell when food is cooked instead of you entering in a time.
They can replace your oven, and of course, they automatically switch off when food is ready or time is reached.
The negative is, of course, that the number of options available may be confusing or too difficult, but you may get around that with instructions pinned next to it or covering the options not likely to be used.
Realistically, this type of microwave is suited to someone in the early stages of dementia; as they progress, it could be too complicated to use alone.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about buying a combination microwave oven. How to buy the best combination microwave
An air fryer is like having a countertop mini-convention oven.
It has a heating element and fans circulating hot air to cook the food. It’s great for cooking vegetables, meat, fish etc.
They can save you energy & time as they cook quicker than conventional ovens. You can cook healthy meals by using less oil. Simple air fryers with dial controls or digital controls are available to purchase.
Some air fryers need to be shaken or stirred for even cooking, but you can buy some with paddles that stir food (great for chips, not so much for that piece of salmon).
It’s an option as air fryers are small and reasonably priced. They can be placed on a countertop, so no need to bend down and risk falls.
Pressure Cooker/ Multicookers
Pressure cookers have evolved from the cooker top pans that could explode. These machines can pressure cook, saute, cook rice, steam, slow cook and more. They can replace the need for cooking on the hob, and they cook food in half the time.
You can also cook directly from frozen. I know it sounds weird, but it is safe – I can attest to cooking chicken straight from the freezer using one of these. So you can click on one of the food options on the front, add some liquid (they always need this) and close the lid. It will cook for the time and then shut off.
They have timer settings depending on what you’re cooking, and at the end of the cooking time, they have a keep warm cycle. You can leave it to automatically release steam (a safer option) or choose to release it manually.
This could be a potential risk for someone with dementia as hot steam escapes from the vent. It’s advisable to move the vent with an implement like a wooden spoon rather than your hands, so you’ll need to consider if that’s a risk that can be mitigated.
Kettles can be a hazard. They can be cumbersome, difficult to pour or risk scalding if the kettle itself gets hot to the touch. Look for appliances that are specifically “cool to touch”. If weight is an issue, think about switching from a full-size kettle to a travel-sized kettle or using a kettle tipper aid. Always choose one with an automatic cut off facility.
Smoke Alarm/detectors should be fitted in all homes. You can get a free smoke alarm if you are above 75, disabled or have long term illness from the fire services.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms are also essential where you have any central gas heating, gas cooker etc. It is a silent killer, an undetectable gas with no smell.
Fridge Door Alarms are helpful when the fridge door isn’t being fully closed and disrupting the fridge temperature, which could impact the quality or safety of the food in the fridge. They will alert if the door is left open on a set timer. E.g. FRIDGGI – Freezer Door Alarm
That’s it, I hope you found this helpful in keeping your loved ones safe at home with the best kitchen appliances available.