With the population aging or members of the family with limitations, more and more homeowners find themselves searching for ways to make their home safer and more accessible. One of the most important rooms to address is the kitchen.  The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation offers a number of suggestions for updating your kitchen:

1.Take a look at your floor plan, and ask yourself if the location of your kitchen makes sense. Is it near the primary entrance to the home? Close to the dining room? Where are appliances and workspaces located?

2.Make sure your kitchen is large enough to allow everyone to move around and use all the appliances. Someone who uses a wheelchair or walker, for example, will generally need at least 59 x 59 inches of space to turn around comfortably, as well as about 29.5 x 47 inches of maneuvering space in front of work areas. For people who use power wheelchairs or scooters, the minimum maneuvering space should be at least 71 x 71 inches.

3.During the reno, keep safety in mind. Avoid small mats or rugs, which could become tripping hazards for children or people with mobility issues. Put a notice board in the kitchen where you can post notes for other family members, especially if anyone in your house is dealing with memory loss. If this is the case, consider installing an override switch that must be activated before using an appliance or outlet in the kitchen.

4.To make your kitchen as efficient as possible, design it so that things that are often used together are located in close proximity to each other. For instance, store your dishes and glasses near the dishwasher, and keep your baking supplies close to a work surface.

5.Make sure your kitchen has adequate lighting, to allow people with vision loss to see more easily. To accommodate people of different heights and abilities, consider including features like storage options that are set at a variety of heights, hands-free or lever faucets, open shelving, cupboards that pull down or open a full 180-degrees, and perhaps a place to sit down or a workstation that is set at a different height.

6.When buying new appliances, floors or countertops, look for surface finishes that will be easier to clean and maintain over the long run. For example, glass cooktops tend to be easier to clean, and while stainless steel appliances may look nice, they can also show fingerprints and may require specialized cleaning products.

7.If someone who is deaf or hard of hearing will be using your kitchen, select appliances and smoke alarms that give visual as well as audible signals. Plus, choose soft, absorbent surfaces such as cork flooring, which can help keep noise levels in the kitchen to a minimum.

8.If there are children, people with Alzheimer’s, people who are forgetful or people who have developmental disabilities in your home, give careful consideration to where and how you store your cleaning products, as well as any other potentially dangerous or toxic products and materials.

For more information, visit www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca.