The Thriver’s Guide: Make Your Kitchen Accessible!

April 19, 2015

My family probably spends more time in the kitchen than any other room in the house. When my health was good and my body was strong, I never thought about what problems might arise should I be limited in some way.  Then in 1979, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), and it wasn’t long before I had to make changes in my kitchen that would make preparing and/or cooking meals easier. Today, I have no use of my legs and minimal use of my arms and hands and use a 3-wheeled Amigo™  scooter to get around.

Below are a few of the low-cost/no cost things we, (my husband and I,) did to save time and energy and improve my safety:


We made deep and difficult countertop corners more user-friendly, by blocking off the corner so that canisters and other utensils couldn’t be pushed or moved out of my reach. We installed under cabinet lights to improve lighting on the countertops.  Better lighting reduced my fatigue and increased my safety. These lights are available at home improvement and lighting stores, come in various lengths, and are easy to install.


Two water controls, one for hot water and one for cold water, are easier to operate if wrist-blade handles are installed.  Hospitals use institutional looking wide, flat-wing handles because you can turn water on and off by pushing with the forearm, the wrist or the heel of the hand. We found attractive wrist-blade handles at the home improvement store.

If turning the water on and off is a problem, consider installing an automatic faucet.  The water turns on when the sensor detects your hands are present and stops automatically when your hands are withdrawn.

Years ago, when I couldn’t stand at the kitchen sink to do the dishes, I found I could stand better (and longer), if I opened the cabinet door and rested my foot on the floor of the cabinet. It took pressure off my back.


When the refrigerator door was too difficult for me to open because the seal was too tight, my husband adjusted the pitch of the refrigerator to make the door open more easily. Unfortunately, that didn’t totally solve the problem.  Next, we placed a small piece of masking tape over the magnetic area on the door.  The door still closes tightly and thankfully, is now much easier to open.

I have my shelves arranged so that the heaviest food items are stored at the height that’s easiest for me to manage. Using a turntable inside our refrigerator, and/or cabinets for that matter, brings needed items within my reach.



When I started to teach the kids how to use the stove safely, I used red nail polish to mark the “off” position on the stove knobs.  I could see from a distance that the knob was in the off position and didn’t have to walk/roll across the room to check. When the oven shelves are clean, they slide in and out more easily.


Have you got a tip or two to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please send your tips to: [email protected]

For more Tips for Making Life Easier™ – visit  To make your whole house safer and more accessible, check out my latest book Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier available at a bookstore near you or on

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