February 2021: Some helpful gadgets to make daily life easier in the kitchen
Our independence is really easy to take for granted – right up to the point when living truly independently becomes harder. Injury, illness, disability or loss of strength or senses through age can all turn certain daily activities into frustrating chores. They can even stop us doing simple things we used to do without thinking. The whole concept of assisted living is to help people maintain maximum independence for as long as possible – while offering vital assistance where it’s needed and wanted. We thought it was high time we put together a handy list of gadgets for the elderly and people with reduced mobility. But with so many products now available, to help with so many different activities, we knew we had to categories. This month: Helpful gadgets to make daily life easier in the kitchen!
Making a cup of tea is one of life’s simple pleasures. But it’s not so simple when you only have the use of one hand. Removing the tea bag becomes, at best, a messy experience or, at worst, downright dangerous. Tea bag squeezers – which can be as straightforward as a well-designed set of tongs or a clever device with a cage and a plunge-squeezer – cost well under £10 and mean you don’t need a cup of tea to get over making your cup of tea…
Talking of tea, who enjoys overfilling a mug? Nobody. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) endorses a number of liquid level indicators, and there are others available too. They clip to the side of your mug or teacup, with built-in sensors to work out when the liquid reaches a certain level. Each product has slightly different features, but they include audible and vibrating alerts which help people with visual impairments to pour their drinks safely.
Which brings us to the kettle tipper. This takes all the effort and risk out of tipping a kettle full of boiling water. It’s a simple concept: a supportive cradle to hold the kettle, so that users with reduced wrist or finger strength can still get that all-important brew going without the danger.
No matter our age, we’ve all left something boiling on the hob only to find we’ve left it too long. Either the rice is dried out at the bottom of the pan, or the water has bubbled over and made a mess. Enter this useful little tool: a metal disk that sits in the bottom of your pan. It’ll prevent liquids like milk from boiling over and rattles away to create an audible reminder that you need to keep an eye on that pan.
The Nimble One-Finger Cutting Tool is a thimble-sized stroke of genius and suitable for uses far beyond the kitchen. How many things that we buy these days – including scissors! – come in some impregnable plastic packaging? Too many by far. Slot this over your finger and the built-in ceramic blade makes quick work of cutting plastic and paper. Open sesame.
Don’t give youngsters the satisfaction of feeling strong when you ask them to open a tricky jar, reach for the Universal Jar and Bottle Opener. Small and easily stored, yet moulded to fit four different sizes of lid, this cheap utensil prevents wrist or finger fatigue and no more smug young relatives – get them to do something properly useful instead, while you crack on with getting your dinner ready.
Automatic tin-openers are handy, there’s no doubt about it. But what about those canned goods whose lid has a ring-pull? Notorious for being hard to get started, only to suddenly peel back and decorate you and your kitchen with the contents of the can. The One-Pull Can Opener is such a simple – and cheap – solution. It acts as a rocker, meaning that the tool acts as a lever against the top of the can, smoothly peeling back the lid, None of the effort is in your arm, and there’s much less risk of spillage.
Search the internet for kitchen chopping aids and you’ll find quite an impressive selection of chopping boards and utensils designed to make vegetable preparation easier and safer for anyone with reduced or limited dexterity. We think the Kitchen Workstation may just be our favourite. It’s not the cheapest, but with such a wide range of functions it might be worth saving up for. It can clamp vegetables for slicing, bread for cutting, can hold jars or bottles in place, and even allows one-handed slicing and grating. Even one-handed spreading is a piece of, erm, cake.
We’ve seen – and experienced – too many burns on the wrist or forearm not to include these longer oven mits. Comfortable, heat-resistant up to 350°C, and machine-washable, a full 39cm of glove protects you when you’re reaching deep into the oven. Much more dextrous than standard oven mits and completely separate from each other, so you don’t need to compromise on grip when handling larger baking trays or roasting dishes.
It’s all very well having all these useful kitchen gadgets to make food and drink preparation safer, faster and easier…but you’ve still got to get what you’ve made back to the dining table or sitting room! It’s an obvious inclusion, but a household trolley is often a must-have gadget. Available at prices as low as £35 or £40, the principle is tried and trusted: a wheeled walking frame typically with one or two trays built in for carrying all sorts of objects from one place to another. No spills, no thrills, just stress-free living.
Please note, all of these products – and alternative versions – may be available more cheaply from other suppliers. It’s always worth shopping around to get the best deal for you, and don’t forget to factor in postage costs if you can’t buy what you want from a local shop.