Aging is far from being a graceful process, it can actually be quite mean. I’m not talking about the harmless greying hair or the inevitable wrinkles people desperately try to postpone, but rather the impending health issues that negatively affect the quality of life for the elderly and seniors, reaching a point at which performing a simple task such as preparing a meal becomes a challenge.
As we get older, our abilities to learn and keep up with technology decreases. We get more forgetful, less flexible, and our senses lose their edges. Elders are also prone to injuries and accidents even at the safety of their own homes. This gives you an idea of the amount of care we should provide them and how grabbing something to eat can be a hazard.
One way to make your elder loved ones more comfortable is by facilitating their kitchen lives, exactly where a microwave comes in! A senior-friendly microwave is an excellent solution for those who are concerned about the well-being of their aging family members, especially ones who are living alone.
Now, we arrive at the real question; what is the best simple/easy-to-use microwave for the elderly? How do you even pick one that’s suitable for them? Well, we’re here to help through it all, with a detailed buying guide and a list of the top 5 microwaves for seniors. So without further ado, let’s hop in!
Our Finest Picks:
|Toshiba EM925A5A-SS Microwave Oven with Sound On/Off ECO Mode and LED Lighting, 0.9 cu. ft, Stainless Steel
|Nostalgia RMO400RED Retro 0.9 Cubic Foot Microwave
|Panasonic Countertop / Built-In Microwave Oven with Cyclonic Wave Inverter Technology and 1250W of Cooking Power - NN-SD775S - 1.6 cu. ft (Stainless Steel / Silver)
The 5 Best Microwaves For The Elderly
1- Nostalgia Retro 0.9 Cubic Foot Microwave
Kicking off our list with a rather unique design, the Nostalgia Retro Microwave is undoubtedly not your average looking oven.
This compact device has a capacity of 0.9 cubic foot which means it can hold standard plate sizes without taking much valuable countertop space. It shows an attractive style with retro-inspired chrome lines and accents on a red painted body, giving it that eye-candy quality.
The chrome handle makes it easy for seniors to open and close the microwave door. Moreover, the Turn-and-Push dial is super simple, offering 12 pre-programmed settings for extra convenience. There are options for express cooking, adjusting the power level, setting the clock, delaying the start, as well as stop/cancel functions.
You can also see an LED lighted control panel that displays the current time as well as the appropriate cooking programs for multiple popular food choices such as fish and chicken. This can be quite helpful for a quick yet efficient performance with 800 watts of power. The Nostalgia Retro Microwave is a bit on the pricey side, but it makes up for it in style and versatility.
- Unique design
- 12 pre-programmed settings
- Bright LED display
- Doesn’t take up too much space
- Chrome push handle
- Aluminum build
- Needs some coaching to master
- Runs a bit too noisy
- Not very powerful
The Nostalgia Retro 0.9 microwave is rather suitable for senior use. It requires minimal effort to get it running with a look that plays on the retro string of an elder’s heart.
2- Panasonic NN-SD775S Countertop / Built-in Microwave Oven
If you’re on the hunt for a spacious microwave packing immense power, then the Panasonic NN-SD775S should be right up your alley.
This beast utilizes 1250 watts of power and you can choose between the 1.6 cubic foot capacity or the 2.2 cubic foot capacity, either way, you know you’re buying a microwave that accommodates almost any container size. It also helps that the manufacturers put thought into the design to minimize the footprint on the countertop as much as possible.
The Cyclonic Wave technology works at every temperature to circulate heat in precise highly efficient 3D waves to guarantee even distribution and optimum cooking levels, no burnt food or partially heated meals.
The controls are also pretty versatile on this microwave, with 20 preset sensor cook menu items, Inverter Turbo Defrost, Delay Start and Timer, More/Less Control, Quick 30sec, and 3 popcorn cooking levels. All the prints are clear and bold.
Another cool feature about this Panasonic Microwave is the Keep Warm option which preserves all kinds of food such as soups, gravies, sauces, and desserts inside the oven nice and warm until they’re ready to be served. The only thing missing here is a pull door handle instead of the push-button mechanism.
- Cyclonic Wave Inverter technology for 3D heating
- 20 preset cook menu items
- Turbo defrost technology thaws food while preserving nutrient
- Incredible power
- Keep warm feature
- Push-button door latches can be tricky for seniors
If you’re looking for a high-end product, this Panasonic microwave is exactly what you need. It packs loads of power, hefty space, as well as innovative convenience features, making one of the most appropriate machines for seniors.
3- Sharp R-21LCFS Medium-Duty Commercial Microwave
Another solid contender on our list is the Sharp R-21LCFS Medium-Duty Microwave. It’s quite simple and easy to figure out, bearing a classic knob dial style equipped with a timer that can be set starting from 10 secs and up to 6 whole minutes. There’s also a bright LED display which is clear enough for the elderly to read at a glance, even those with reduced vision.
The interior is pretty large at a capacity of 1.0 cubic foot, comfortably holding a 13½ inch platter, prepackaged foods, or a half-size pan in either direction. This unit’s dimensions are 20.5 × 16 × 12.1 inches and it weighs 37 pounds.
The Sharp microwave is equipped with an auto-cancel timer which works to cancel the remaining time when the oven door is opened during cooking. As a result, it saves energy and prolonged the magnetron’s life.
Seniors will find this model particularly easy to maintain thanks to the stainless interior and exterior that allow for effortless cleaning. Moreover, there’s a handy “on-the-spot” guide placed above the timer showing recommendations for how much time some popular foods should be heated. The instructions for operating are also printed on the control panel.
- Stainless steel interior and exterior
- Instructions are printed on the panel
- quiet roomy
- Auto-cancel timer saves energy
- Doesn’t have a rotating plate
- The timer resets every time you open the door which can be frustrating
- The timer is maxed out at 6 minutes
- Doesn’t show the remaining time
This Sharp microwave is all about durability. The sturdy stainless steel build deems it as a highly reliable option for older folks despite the timer issues.
4- Toshiba EM925A5A-SS Microwave Oven
Known for their innovative technologies as well as remarkable products, Toshiba lands in with their widely popular EM925A5A-SS Microwave Oven, combining both dependability and affordability in one awesome package wrapped in a sleek stainless steel exterior.
This unit is compact with a capacity of 0.9 cubic foot and a size of 19.2 × 15.9 × 11.5 inches. The lightweight 900-watt microwave, weighing only 27.3 pounds, comes equipped with 10 power settings, a kitchen timer, and a defrost option either by time or weight.
The display control panel features LED lighting which is bright enough for easy monitoring by elderly people. You can also find 6 pre-programmed functions for popcorn, pizza, frozen vegetables, potatoes, beverage, and dinner plate, all of which can be started with a single touch. The pull handle makes it easy to control the door as well.
- High quality
- Elegant style
- Stainless steel construction
- Adequate size
- Option to turn off the sound
- Display light may be too dim for some users
- Door latch may get stuck
Toshiba’s microwave oven remarkably proves that innovation and practicality can indeed go hand in hand. The simple interface, sleek design, and decent price, surely explain why it became such a huge hit.
5- Commercial Chef Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven
Last but not least, a microwave for those on a tight budget but still want decent performance, you’ll be pleased to know that the folks at Commercial Chef got you covered with their Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven.
The construction of this unit is strong and sturdy with a white front display and cabinet. The grip handle is easy to grip when opening or closing the door. There are two mechanical rotary dial controls that are extremely simple to use with extra convenience, perfect for senior citizens and the elderly suffering from vision impairments.
There are no buttons to be pressed, the owner only needs to turn the knobs for one of the 6 cooking settings. A high power option can be used to thaw frozen foods. Moreover, it’s equipped with a timer that can be set starting from 1 minute all the way to 30 minutes.
This microwave oven comes with a 0.6 cubic foot interior capacity which can fit dishes up to 9.5 inches big. The product dimensions are 17.75 × 12.5 × 10.25 inches, weighing in at just 23.1 pounds. Besides the compact size, the Commercial Chef is rather easy to maintain and clean requiring minimal effort. Not only is the included glass turntable removable and can be washed in a dishwasher, but also there are no electronic controls with a malfunction risk to worry about.
- Ultra elderly-friendly rotary knob dials
- The timer goes up to 30 minutes
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Handle grip requires no effort to use
- The cord can be too short
- Feet are slippery, could use pads
- You can’t extend cook time while it’s running
Hands down, the best deal you can score if splurging isn’t an option you can afford. The Commercial Chef microwave delivers a satisfying performance, good enough to serve the needs of most seniors.
What Is A Microwave?
Also known as a microwave oven, a microwave is an appliance used in kitchens to cook or heat up food by exposure to radio waves, a type of electromagnetic waves of small wavelengths. These waves travel into the food, causing water molecules to vibrate extremely fast which, in turn, heats up the surrounding molecule until the heat reaches all portions of your meal. This whole process requires less time and minimal effort.
The idea of utilizing microwaves to heat food is accredited to the American engineer Percy Spencer. While building magnetrons, he was standing in front of an active machine when he noticed the candy bar in his pocket had melted. After that, he decided to investigate this phenomenon and experimented with various types of food. In 1945, he filed a patent application, and in 1947, the first commercial microwave was released.
Why Use A Microwave?
There are many reasons for microwaves being so popular, in fact, statistics show that 92% of households in the United States own a microwave oven as of 2017, so it’s obvious microwaves are pretty helpful to all of us, let alone our seniors. Here is why the elderly can greatly benefit from owning microwaves:
- A microwave is very easy to operate, and the ones we’ll be looking at today are extra user-friendly to guarantee maximum simplicity.
- Unlike cooking on a stove using panes and saucers, a microwave requires far less effort, it’s all about pushing a few buttons. On the other hand, traditional appliances are difficult for elders to handle, especially those who suffer from joint pain and are unable to stand for hours in front of their stoves dealing with heavy pans.
- The entire process takes almost no time compared to other methods of cooking and heating, and even that little time can be spent sitting back and relaxing.
- A microwave does its job efficiently. It heats up meals evenly all the way to the middle and inner parts, something that even average people would have trouble achieving with conventional ways. Moreover, a microwave doesn’t stop at heating up food, it can even cook all sorts of meals such as pizza, pasta, fish, chicken roast, and many more.
- Building upon the previous point, microwaves are super versatile, allowing seniors to warm up any kind of food from soups to canned goodies.
- Microwaves propose no risk of burns or extreme heat complications, unlike stoves and cookers where high temperatures and getting burnt are nearly mandatory.
- Preparing meals using a microwave means fewer dishes to do! There are no saucers, bowls, spatulas, or any of the extra jazz that leaves behind heaps of dishes waiting to be washed. Additionally, most of the utensils can double as microwave-appropriate containers as well as serving plates.
- A microwave can inform the elderly of the food’s condition and alert them when their meal is done, in both visual and auditory impairment scenarios.
What To Look For In A Quality Microwave For The Elderly?
If you’re planning on getting your hands on the best microwave oven for the elderly, you can’t randomly pick one out and call it a day. You want a microwave that’s easy and simple enough to operate, while still being powerful and efficient. How? Well, here are some factors you need to consider before making a purchase:
1. Type Of The Machine
First things first, for an elderly person, a microwave placement should pose no hindrance or require too much effort to actually reach. Out of the several types of microwave ovens, we found two that fall right into this criteria: Countertop microwaves and Built-in microwaves.
This type is one of the most popular among all sorts of people, from college kids to old grandpas! These microwaves are installed rather quickly and simply, you only need to plug them in and you’re good to go. They come in a wide selection of sizes, colors, as well as brands. Their prices cover a vast range, starting at super affordable 20 dollar models all the way to over 500 dollars for high-end versions.
The catch? Well, owing to their name, these microwaves do take up counter space which can be problematic if the elder person has a small kitchen.
Opposite to countertop models, built-in microwaves demand none of the counter space. Instead, they are made to be installed directly into a wall or a cabinet, thus saving some valuable counter space. They are, however, more complicated to set up and you’ll probably need a professional to help you with it. Another downside to built-in microwaves is their price tags, starting at about 300 dollars.
Note that there are some microwaves which offer both countertop and built-in options in the same product. They typically come with special kits for wall installment, making them a 2-in-1 deal where you also get to save some cash.
Once you’ve decided on the microwave oven type, you should pay the utmost attention to the controls on it. As a general rule, elderly people require controls that are easy to figure out and simple to use. Too many buttons and settings may be appealing to younger folks, but for them, it can be very confusing and intimidating. This is especially true for seniors suffering from dementia or Alzheimers, it’d be nearly impossible for them to operate the appliance.
What you need to look for is very basic control panels, dials are an excellent choice in this case. The Microwave should also be equipped with turnable knobs, and the bigger they are the better! These types of controls are straightforward and they’re probably already familiar with such panels.
3. Print & Display
Along with easy and simple controls, you also need to look for a microwave with large print and a super clear display. Seniors are more likely to have issues with weakened vision, so you have to make sure they can comfortably read the printing on all the buttons as well as the timer settings. You don’t want them to mistake 10:00 for 1:00 and end up with burnt food or worse, accidental burn injuries.
Make sure the print is big and bold, preferably black in color against a white background. Small writings on dark glossy surfaces are a huge no-go for the elderly as they’re difficult to make out and can be quite frustrating when all they want is to heat up a snack but can’t seem to even use the microwave.
What we mean by the microwave’s size is both its dimensions as well as its capacity. These determine how much space the appliance will take up and how much food it can handle in one go.
An elderly person won’t necessarily need a jumbo-sized microwave, something large enough to hold an average dinner plate should be just fine. We recommend one that’s at least 10 inches wide by 10 inches deep.
5. Door Mechanism
Another important aspect to consider is the opening and closing of the microwave oven’s door. Nowadays, you’ll mostly find microwaves equipped with push-button latches to open their doors.
Unfortunately, these kinds are tricky to handle for seniors, especially those who suffer from arthritis or have weak fragile fingers as push handles require a certain degree of force that can be hard to muster up.
What works best with elders is the old pull handle which is prominent and rugged. This is the easiest and safest route to take.
A loud ding can go a long way! It may not seem like a crucial feature, but a high-volume alert comes in very handy to notify the elderly when their food is ready in case they are forgetful, easily distracted, or suffer from hearing problems. The sound should be loud enough for them to hear and remember to get their meal.
7. Smart Sensors
If you’re willing to spare some extra cash, smart sensors can be a great addition to any senior-friendly microwave. An auto shut-off sensor, for example, would be extremely helpful as it can sense when the food is done and then shut off automatically. This way; burning, bad smells, as well as the embarrassment can be avoided.
A microwave’s wattage is an indication of its power. The higher the wattage, the quicker the food is cooked, and more evenly too. You’ll generally see microwaves ranging between 500 and 1000 watts of power. While a 500-watt model would be a bit too weak for cooking, a 1000-watt microwave is better suited for heavy-duty action.
For elderly people, we recommend a microwave with 700 watts or so. It’s the ideal choice for home use, handling all sorts of meals and snacks that a senior would typically have while still being affordable and efficient.
A microwave with a rack can be beneficial in heating up or cooking more than one dish at a time. For example, soup and pizza can’t be heated using the same dish and it would take two runs to get them both done, so a rack would definitely enable the microwave to hold them together.
How a microwave oven looks isn’t the top of our priorities here, but it can be the decisive factor of you’re stuck between a couple of suitable options. Consider the kitchen where it’ll be placed as well as the owner’s style preference.
11. Cooking Programs
Besides standard timing settings, many modern microwaves now have pre-programmed cooking options to facilitate the process and save time with quick keys. This is a great feature for seniors who often get confused or forgetful when it comes to operating this appliance.
What To Put Vs What Not To Put Inside A Microwave
To ensure the safety of your beloved old folks, you should make sure they’re completely aware of what goes in a microwave oven and what doesn’t. The last thing we want to see in them getting hurt or their kitchen going up in flames!
Generally, you can find the words “heatproof” or “microwave-safe” labeled on containers that are deemed safe to use. You should advise seniors to always check any type of container they’re using for such markings before going for it. You can also write down or print a list for them in case the packagings aren’t too clear.
Never put the following items in the microwave:
- Aluminum foil.
- Any utensil made of metal or carrying metallic parts such as trims and paint.
- Brown paper bags.
- Plates, cups, trays, or bowls insulated with foam.
- Cold-storage plastic containers such as yogurt and cheese tubs.
Things that are totally fine to place inside a microwave oven:
- Glass dishes
- Ceramic plates
- Paper plates
- Parchment and wax paper
- White paper towels
Plastic Or No Plastic?
There have been many claims and concerns when it comes to microwaving food in plastic containers or wrap, the idea being that certain chemicals will migrate from the plastic material into food.
The truth is; there’s a possibility of small amounts of chemicals to leach out of the container, but the FDA has recognized this long ago and already have set strict standards to ensure the consumer’s safety. Manufactured are required to pass specific tests before getting their plastic containers approved as “microwave-safe” by the FDA.
Out of all kitchen appliances, a microwave oven is probably the best and most helpful one for an elderly person, given that, of course, it’s easy enough to operate, requires little effort to use, and packs some of the features we talked about in order to make life more convenient for seniors. Not to mention, a microwave makes a pretty sweet gift for your grandma or grandpa!
Today, the Toshiba EM925A5A-SS Microwave Oven takes this one home. It’s durable with superb quality, very simple to figure out, and the price tag is such a bargain! However, if you’re looking for something with a conventional pull handle for seniors with arthritis, I’d strongly recommend the Nostalgia RMO400RED Retro .