Key features for cabinets and countertops are discussed below.
Make all interior and exterior doors, cabinet doors, drawers, and closet doors accessible by changing hardware and the way you open them. All door handles should be changed from standard door knobs to lever handles. All cabinet doors and drawers should have “D” type pulls to allow people of all abilities to more easily open and close them.
Open cabinets and shelves, and slide-out shelves from within cabinets make access and reachability easier and reduce the strain from bending and stooping. Adding pull-down shelves for the overhead cabinets and installing an adjustable shelving system helps to reduce overhead reaching. Installing roll-out shelves in lower cabinets can greatly reduce the strain of bending over to reach items in the back.
Most people will replace countertops when remodeling rooms in which counters are located. You should choose a counter configuration that increases the usability and function of surfaces in the kitchen, bathroom(s), laundry room, or other space for all parties living in the home.
One way to do this is to install multi-level countertops. Most could be at the standard height of 36 inches, with some at 30 inches for people who like or need to sit while working, and a section at 42 inches for ease of use while standing.
An alternative is to install motorized, adjustable-height counters that can go from standard height to a height more accessible to someone who is in a wheelchair. A local cabinetmaker should be able to find the right solution for you.
Other countertop considerations include the following:
- Choose a counter surface that will be easy to clean and maintain, and that will last for years
- Configure counters to leave plenty of room for dishes and small appliances
- Install counters with rounded corners and edges to reduce the risk of injury on sharp corners
- Use a different color for countertop edges, giving a visual signal identifying the edge
- Install plenty of lighting over countertops to reduce eye strain and the chance of injury
Below is a sampling of cabinet and countertop products that are designed to help you age in place for a longer period of time. Click on the links to find out more information, see other products selections, and if you like, to make a purchase from one of our providers.