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Kitchen and Bathroom Checklist for Senior Independent Living

Updated on August 14, 2012

As people age, they often find that they are not able to do all the things they once could. From easily opening containers to taking care of themselves, everyday activities become more difficult.

Independence is very important to seniors, and it is critical that they have everything they need to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. Whether someone is looking to live independently in a house or in a retirement living apartment, there are many aspects to consider. If they are in a house, many design changes may need to occur in order for them to live on their own for a long time. However, retirement housing communities often come with bathrooms and kitchens already equipped for seniors to live independently longer.

Wheelchair Accessible Shower
Wheelchair Accessible Shower | Source

Safe Bathroom Checklist

Bathrooms can be dangerous places for anyone! With water and slick surfaces, falls can happen easily and often. One of the most important ways to ensure independence for seniors is to ensure their safety.

Checklist for Bathroom Design

  • Safety bars in showers and near toilet
  • Wheelchair accessible shower (not contained within a bathtub)
  • Bath chair or stool available and will fit into the shower
  • Handheld shower nozzle for showering while seated
  • Single handle faucet instead of knobs
  • Pull cord (or another call method) to get help in case of a fall
  • Wheelchair accessible sink (no cabinets below the sink)

For more ways to ensure accessibility and safety, check out the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

In addition to the design of the bathroom, there are some modifications that can be made to make everyday tasks easier for seniors.

  • Request that all prescriptions be dispensed in bottles that are not childproof (as long as children will not have access to them). This makes bottles much easier to open.
  • Secure baskets to shower walls that can hold items such as shampoo and soap to prevent them from falling to the floor and spilling.
  • Keep the floor clear of rugs to prevent tripping.

Safety in the Bathroom
Safety in the Bathroom | Source
Single handle faucet in kitchen
Single handle faucet in kitchen | Source

Kitchen Safety Checklist

Like bathrooms, kitchens can hold many hazards that can jeopardize senior living independence. A kitchen should be a safe place for seniors to maintain the level of independence they desire without concerns about safety.

Checklist for a Safe Kitchen

  • As with the bathroom sink, a kitchen sink should have a single lever to turn water on and off.
  • Small kitchen appliances, including coffee makers, should have automatic shutoff timers. This will prevent them from being forgotten and staying on for long periods of time, causing a potential fire hazard.
  • No heavy objects should be placed on high shelves or in high cabinets. This prevents these objects from falling and causing injury. If the person has good mobility and can stand easily, lightweight objects may be stored in high locations.
  • All doorways into the kitchen should be standard width or larger to accommodate a wheelchair.
  • Light switches and outlets should be low enough to be easily reached.
  • When shopping for groceries, keep accessibility in mind. Avoid heavy containers (opt for smaller quantities in smaller containers) and also avoid containers that are difficult to open or close.

Check Out This Amazingly Accessible Kitchen!

Independence for Seniors is Possible

With the safety precautions presented here, it is possible for seniors to live self-sufficiently and continue to maintain the lifestyle that they desire. Ensuring safe kitchens and bathrooms will prevent many hazards that lead to injuries and, ultimate, less independence.


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    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Hi Sharyn - thanks for reading! Great minds think alike, right? I think anything about seniors living independently is very helpful and will be sought after. I hope you are able to think of a new angle for your information - I will look forward to reading it.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Amy ~ this is a great checklist and very important for seniors wanting to remain independent. I gotta tell ya, I started writing a hub "Independent Living Checklist for Older Adults." But now that I've come across yours, you really cover the things I was going to, so, on to a new topic. Seriously, nice job. Going to share this . . .


    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks Margie! My mom recently moved to an assisted living facility, so this has been on my mind lately. In fact, a couple of the pictures in this hub are of her apartment before she moved in! These are small, yet important changes to make to stay independent!

    • Mmargie1966 profile image

      Mmargie1966 5 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      Wow Amy, this is AWESOME! I vote up and awesome, and had to share it. My Mom is 75 years old, owns her home in a 55+ community, and is extremely independent. She expects to stay right where she is (comfortable in her home) for the rest of her life. She has made many elderly friendly changes over the past few years to adapt to her weakening body. She enjoys her freedom and privacy thanks to these changes.

      Great job!