Living with a physical disability can be challenging. Your movements and motion are limited, but chores and housework must be done. Even if you adapted your home to the wheelchair, some tasks, like cooking, are still daunting.
Does it mean that you should give up cooking? Being in a wheelchair requires daily adaptation to new situations. This means that cooking is an obstacle you're yet going to tackle. There is no need to give up on your passion. Before you start preparing new meals, adapt your kitchen for your wheelchair.
1. Reorganize your cupboards
Physical disabilities often come with difficulties in standing up. This means that you can’t reach the high shelves and necessities that are just out of reach. Instead of constantly having someone do things for you, reorganize your kitchen elements so the things you use the most are at your fingertips.
In the kitchen, we use many things on a daily basis. The truth is, if you don't have a counter surface large enough, storing all those items becomes challenging. Instead of spending a fortune on a new kitchen, adapt. Think about implementing pull-down baskets in wall elements and pull-out drawers and shelves in your cupboard. This will prevent bending and stretching., while you’ll have all you need in a comfortable reach.
2. Lap desks
Using a cupboard surface for storing necessities is great, but how can you cook without a proper surface? Besides being overloaded with things, you can’t fully reach the surface of your cupboard if you're sitting in a wheelchair. So, how can you chop the ingredients if you don’t have enough space or strength to reach the cupboards?
The solution is simple: consider using a lap desk. A lap desk doesn’t only have to be used for your laptop or breakfast in bed. The best thing about a lap desk is that you can make it by yourself. Additionally, it can be used as a hard surface suitable for carrying a hot meal from the cooker to the dining table. This multi-use device is a perfect barrier between the hot tea or soup and your lap, protecting you from spillage and burns.
3. Ovens and hobs
Using an oven and a hob in a wheelchair can be dangerous if they are not properly installed or adapted for wheelchair use. Imagine trying to lift up the boiling hot water. It can end in a disaster that could've been prevented with the right layout.
One of the most important things to look for in an oven and hobs are easy controllers and doors that open sideways. To achieve the complete accessibility, a pull-out worktop beneath the oven is a must-have for every kitchen. When it comes to hobs, the emphasis lies on the safety and easy use. That's why hobs with controllers in front of the burners are a great solution. Besides that, there must be enough space on both sides of the hob where frying pans and pots can be left to settle.
4. Accessible kitchen sink
One of the biggest worries when it comes to using a kitchen in a wheelchair is a kitchen sink. Most kitchens are designed so the sinks are highly inaccessible for people with walkers and wheelchairs. However, everything can be adapted.
The first step is to make sure there is an open space underneath the kitchen sink that provides adequate wheelchair accessibility. A drain should be located at the rear end of the sink so the piping makes enough space for a wheelchair to roll in. Lastly, consider installing a single-handle kitchen faucet because it’s more accessible and easier to use. Now you can finally wash the dishes and the veggies in your sink.
5. Safety first
Being injured which makes you temporarily physically disabled doesn't mean that you'll have to stay in a wheelchair for a lifetime. As recovery starts, you’ll be able to stand up for a while and only use a walker to help you stay stable. However, being in a wheelchair for a longer time makes you tired and strained every time you try to do something standing up. This, naturally, affects cooking as well.
That's why anti-fatigue mats exist. They are ideal for the kitchen environment as they help you stand for a longer time without feeling fatigued. Consider getting a custom-made anti fatigue mat for your kitchen that will provide comfort and safety while cooking. They are suitable for wet and dry areas and are slip and trip safe. This means that the risk of slipping is non-existent, so it’s safe for someone who has just stopped using a wheelchair.
6. Start cooking
As you’ve adapted your kitchen, you can start preparing delicious meals for you, your family and friends. However, you still need to take more time preparing the kitchen. Before you start cooking any recipe, make sure you’ve bought all the ingredients needed. Also, ensure that you have everything you need in your reach before you start preparing a meal. Continuous trips to the fridge and back can waste a lot of time and cause your meal to burn.
Besides that, de-clutter the items stored on the cupboards. If they are all piled up together, it makes it difficult to reach and get exactly what you need without wasting time and creating an unnecessary mess. Rearrange and organize the food in the order you’ll need it for the recipe.
As you can see, cooking in a wheelchair doesn’t have to be dreadful if you adapt the kitchen to your needs. These are only some suggestions. Naturally, different people prefer different types of layout and gadgets. The only thing that’s important is to make cooking as easy and as comfortable as possible.
Don't forget that cooking should be a relaxing therapy for the mind and soul. Appreciate the process regardless of your disabilities. Even if the meal doesn't look perfect, you can still enjoy the amazing taste and wonderful smell that come with it.
Image credit: Marcus Aurelius