My dad is in his mid-90s and still semi-independent in Assisted Living. He’s still sharp and active, but doesn’t want complications in his life – new gadgets or having to learn new technology drives him mad.
The time came when he needed a new microwave and I wondered what to go for. Definitely nothing too complicated!
For anyone of that age, if you’re worried about their kitchen safety, investing in a microwave oven can go a long way in giving them back their independence, or it can allow carers to supply quick and nutritious meals during their visit.
Here are the three microwaves I shortlisted at the time (including the one I bought), to help you if you’re in a similar buying situation – and the reasons why I picked them.
There’s some further advice on how I adapted some features for my elderly dad at the end of this article, too.
Best Simple Microwave Suitable for the Elderly
Daewoo Manual Control Microwave
(Check Amazon’s Price)
Dimensions – H25.9cm x W44.9cm x D31.7cm
Weight – 10.6kg
Daewoo’s Manual Control Microwave was the one I bought for my dad. It didn’t cost very much, was simple and easy to use, and had many features I liked. Thankfully my dad liked it too! I added some grips to the feet to stop it moving on his shiny counter – something you might want to consider as well.
It has a 20 litre capacity that is designed to fit dinner plates, so you can reheat a whole meal with the turn of a dial. It has 700W microwave output, so it’s pretty efficient and fast. This microwave also has 2 easy to use dials that gives a choice of 7 power levels, from defrost to warm to cook.
This microwave also has a concave reflex system which ensures that food is cooked evenly throughout, so there would be less chance of undercooking something by accident.
One of the reasons I got this one was because dad is hard of hearing, and it gives off a loud ‘ping’ when the food has finished cooking, alerting the user.
The interior is made from enamel, meaning that it’s easy for him to wipe clean, and this can be helpful if your relative has someone that does the cleaning for them as the ‘dirt’ can be left inside without the risk of it being baked on with use.
This microwave is the sort that other people don’t need a massive instruction manual to use! This means it’s great if your relative has carers that go in to help them, all they have to do is pop the meal in, twist a dial and it’s done. Third parties won’t need to be taught how to use it, unlike modern microwaves that have multiple settings and functions.
This particular microwave also comes with a rack that allows more things to be heated at the same time, which is great for carers that have a lot to do during their visit (or if you’re going to cook for both you and your relative during a visit).
- Very easy to use, simple control dials
- 20 litre capacity that can fit dinner plates
- Concave reflex system to ensure even cooking as well as 7 power settings
- Loud end signal
- Black text on white background, easier to see for those with vision problems
- Easy to clean enamel interior
- Button opening
- The microwave can slide around, however this can be solved by adding some grips to the feet
- Can be noisy
- Dial is hard to get an exact timing with
Best Compact Microwave for the Elderly
Dimensions – 31.3 x 42.4 x 22.4 centimetres
Weight – 9.84kg
This compact microwave by Russell Hobbs won’t take up much counter space in the kitchen so if your relative has limited space, or lives in an assisted living complex with smaller kitchens then this can fit right in. This was my second choice – in the end, we went with the full size above.
The microwave itself weighs just under 10kg so there’s limited risk of an older person moving it on their own and hurting themselves.
Despite its small size, it has a 14-litre capacity and a 600W microwave output as well as a 35-minute dual speed timer for exact cooking times.
It has simple dials – with 6 power levels, including a defrost function to ensure that food is cooked all the way through and the diamond pattern internal design contributes to even cooking on the top, bottoms and sides, so there’s a reduced risk of accidentally undercooking something.
Opening is with a simply push button, the dial controls are simple to use and the numbers and power levels are written in white against a black background, meaning that they are easier to see for those with vision problems.
- Space saving design
- Easy to use controls
- 6 power levels along with a defrost function for frozen meals
- Easy to clean
- Button opening
- Can be considered noisy
- The inside of the microwave isn’t very big, so can be difficult to heat things such as tubs of soup, best to decant into a bowl
Best Easy to Use Microwave for an Elderly Relative
Russell Hobbs 17L Manual Microwave
(View Amazon’s Price)
Dimensions – 25.6cm x 45.1cm x 36cm
Weight – 11.8kg
The only reason I didn’t get this one is because my dad didn’t want any colour apart from white! So if you don’t have that resistance – this may be one to consider as it’s very easy to use.
This Russell Hobbs microwave has two dial controls, one for power and one for time, so it’s extremely easy to use with no fancy features, perfect for someone who just wants an easy to use microwave.
It has a generous capacity as well as an 700W microwave output with 5 power options, including a defrost function so reheating meals, cooking ready meals and defrosting vegetables are all possible.
This model may also be better for people who have memory issues, as there’s no sequence of buttons to remember – simply turn the dial and go. It has a maximum timer of 30 minutes so won’t go longer than that, which is handy to know if an elderly person forgets it’s on.
The door to the microwave is a huge, easy to pull handle rather than a button. When the food is ready, the microwave lets off a loud ‘ping’ noise that should be easy enough to hear.
- Extremely easy to use with 2 simple dials
- 700W with 5 programmes
- Under 12kg weight, so relatively light
- Handle rather than an open button
- Loud ding when food is finished
- Black text on cream background, can be hard to see for those with vision problems
- Food can be heated unevenly, best to take food out halfway through and stir before heating again
Simple Microwaves For The Elderly: What To Look For
The ability to prepare food for ourselves is often something that we take for granted, and losing this ability may be frustrating for an older person as it feels like a loss of independence.
Microwaves can be great for older people to prepare their own meals, and enable them to be as self sufficient as they can and also reduce the amount of washing up that they have to do. There’s also no worry for you that they might accidentally leave the oven or gas on and cause themselves harm.
When searching for a microwave oven suitable for an elderly relative:
- It’s best to keep the machine simple. Dial controls are the best to go for, as there’s less of a chance of it being put on the wrong setting and becoming a safety hazard.
- Dial controls are also a lot easier to understand and don’t have any complicated functions, you simply turn the dial to the timing you want.
- Button door releases are better for those with arthritis and there’s no need to bend your fingers and grasp tightly, however, if they have weaker hands and don’t have the force to operate a button release, then a handle may be a better fit.
- Contrasting colours are also important when it comes to microwaves for the elderly, especially for those with visual impairments. It’s best to go for designs that have black text against a white background, or large icons that aren’t too close together and easy to read.
What’s The Best Dementia Friendly Microwave?
Like many peope in their 90s my dad has mild signs of memory loss and dementia, but I was well aware that this could get worse.
Dementia can have a significant impact on someone’s daily life and of course, any relative wants to ensure that their loved one’s life is as safe and normal as possible.
So, if you’re looking for the best dementia-friendly microwave I’d suggest Daewoo’s Manual Control Microwave, which is the first one listed in this guide. All of the features are applicable to someone with dementia – and I’ve also written some tips on making it even easier to use:
Tips On Adapting A New Microwave For The Elderly
If you’re still worried that your relative may not be sure how to use the microwave you’ve chosen correctly, there are some ways that you can adapt a microwave to make it more suitable for an elderly person:
- Place coloured stickers over the most used settings and timings so the person knows exactly what to set the timings to, or block out the controls that are not needed
- Type up clear instructions, or print out pictures to remind users what to do. You can also remind them of safety hazards, letting them know that metal does not belong in the microwave
- Make sure that the microwave is easy to reach, it should be placed on a countertop rather than on a shelf, this way it is less likely to fall
- Consider adding some nonslip feet to the bottom of the microwave
In the end, you should choose something that you think is right for your relative, though I’ve tried to offer guidance here. Choosing a microwave should take into account the elderly person’s specific needs which are likely to be different for every person.
Remember to involve your elderly relative in the decisions as much as possible, even if it’s something as simple as choosing the colour, so that they don’t feel that they have no control over the situation and you can do what you can to ensure that they are as safe and independent as possible.
You might also be interested in the best cordless phones suitable for the elderly, as I bought one of those for my dad, too.