What has anyone done to thwart elders using a built-in oven and/or electric stove top?

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Mom is typically not alone, but Dad is often preoccupied, and I may not be right there when SHE decides to get dinner going...while I live with them, I do work and am not home until after 5. She has shown signs to give me some concern, but not on a continuous basis. EX: putting a plastic meal tray meant for the microwave into the regular oven causing it to start to melt. As I was tired of cooking and leftovers going down the drain uneaten, I bought a nice set of 4 plastic sectioned dishes meant for the microwave with lids that fit snug and had vents. Well, I discovered tonight that one was missing, hunted it down to find it in the trash, and as I was washing it saw a spot that looked melted. Hmmm. But then I saw the back of it: It was a bigger melted spot, and the pattern in the area was a match to the oven liner mat...and there was a tiny piece of tin foil melted into it...when I looked in the oven I saw a small fragment of foil on the mat...So, I have read others have dealt with this by throwing the circuit breakers. I'm wondering if anyone has any other ideas, if you have used any sort of locking mechanisms, if you have invested in installing a killswitch (and how expensive is that, and how has it worked out) or if you know if any of the new ovens have some safety mechanisms built in, like needing a code to work. She is still quite functional in many ways. But she can be miserably stubborn.

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
I take the knobs off and only put them on if I'm using it, easy fix.
Throwing the breakers for the oven and cook top are the simplest of solutions. Another thing to try if you can afford it is to install a conduction cook top bit don't get her pans that will work.
Hide the pans when you are not at home. I don't know what to do about the oven except disable it.
My Mom, age 84, was falling asleep while cooking, causing exploded eggs, often burnt food, and once a pot caught fire. I live upstairs so I smelled the fire and caught it quickly. I unplugged/threw the breaker to my Mom's range/oven and placed 2 large cutting boards on top of the elements giving her more 'counter space' beside a newly purchased a counter top oven. She likes the counter top oven much more than the range's oven as she doesn't have to bend over. I also purchased a portable induction cook top. Both require a cook time be set before the appliances can be turned on, automatically turning them off when the cook cycle is complete. The prices vary for the counter top oven from quite cheap (under $50.00) to expensive (over $300). Portable induction cook tops prices range from $50 - $100. These changes have helped avoid cooking errors by Mom. Yet, still, in time the only safe appliance will be the microwave, and microwave safe dishes. Getting old 'aint easy...
I constantly fought with this issue when my mom lived in her independent living apartment. She was always wanting to cook or make coffee. Several times she put a coffee thermos on the stove and the inside glass exploded and the plastic handle melted.

I did have a caregiver and I was there covering most of the time she wasn't alone.. but could cause a dangerous environment very quickly.. even if someone else was there. Mom was miserably stubborn as well and insisted she was "ok".

The circuit breaker thing worked out pretty good for me.. she never figured it out. I also had a camera in the kitchen area that was connected to wifi that I monitored when no one was there with them.

My Mom appeared more functional as well but she could be dangerous. She would put knives in the drawer blade up so someone could cut their wrist if they reached in there suddenly (not intentionally), caught her putting fish oil in the salad.. ugh. Oh.. she also loved to defrost stuff for dinner.. I never knew how long it had been out or if it was good or not. It was so sad because she was such an accomplished cook at one time.

Good luck to you tho.. its tough.
I've enjoyed reading the answers here. We've had the same issue with my husband's 93 yo mom. We did put a wifi camera in the kitchen to keep an eye on her. I think after 6 months of not being allowed to cook, she has accepted it.

I do have to share this with you. A few months back she asked how long it takes to pre-heat the microwave. Sorry, but that did bring a chuckle!!
When I began going over to my mothers and finding her snoring, dead to the world in front of the tv, and pot of spaghetti sauce on a burner that had been heating up for GOD knows how long - splattered all over the stove and burned on the bottom - that was it. That spaghetti sauce had been in a pot in the refrigerator for over a week, and it was for her, and she never ate it. She was heating it up for hours a day, falling asleep! - thought my father and brothers were coming home to eat. (Father dead 20 years, brother living across the country! No one was 'coming home to eat'!) I took all the knobs off the stove and oven, kept a couple in my purse, and hid the others in the house, to be used only by ME or a paid caregiver when we needed the stove. I told her, your food is prepared, in the refrigerator to eat. The paid caregiver will heat your food when she's here in the microwave and only she should do it. (and I kept an eye on that microwave! If it was being misused, I was fully prepared to take it out of the house!  Luckily, there were no accidents with it.  I eventually unplugged the microwave just to be sure and put a child-resistant plastic thing into the outlet, Mom didn't have the wits to figure it out as far as I knew.). That was the end of that stove and oven disaster-in-waiting, no knobs = no cooking or baking. Mom never said anything, called me up once asking if I had SEEN the knobs for the stove, but I said no, no I hadn't!
Some stoves have a "lock" feature that will lock all controls.
You can remove knobs so that the stove can not be turned on.
You could check with an electrition to see if a switch can be installed to control just the stove. (Often circuit breakers are in the basement and if you have to go to the basement every time you leave it can get rater tiresome.) That way you can just flip the switch to turn the oven back on. I would have it placed in a cabinet so it is not visible to Mom.
The induction cook top mentioned above is a great idea as well.
My cooktop and oven both have “child locks” built in. Usually just a button you touch for 3 seconds which disables everything. To unlock, hold again. Not sure if that’d be enough in your situation, but if your appliances will be replaced soon, something to consider. Come to think of it, my dishwasher has the same feature.
Such a difficult topic, much like the issues around driving. I imagine it's beyond just being stubborn especially for someone who spent their lives cooking or got joy and purpose from cooking for their families throughout their lives. But even any one of us, preparing and cooking a meal is one of those life basics we do to care for ourselves. It's hard both emotionally and just cognitively to recognize that we aren't able to do this the same way anymore and then something more to admit it. Then having to be practice and find a way to feed ourselves without cooking the way we always have...I can't imagine how hard this must be on a person, maybe even harder than not being able to drive yourself somewhere when you want to and having to arrange transportation I'm not sure, at least the car can be removed so it isn't always right there where it's always been.

My mom was burning pans every so often before her stroke and when she was afraid to use the stove when no one else was around after the stroke and continued to feel that way when she moved back to her house I was so relieved. But then my brother kept insisting that she could cook and use the stove/oven just fine and needed to get over her fear of using them when she was alone. We aren't sure from day to day that she can get the words out if she needs to call 911 or knows when to call them based on testing but he good with her using the stove! Well he convinced her so we will certainly be addressing this problem at some point now, convincing her pr preventing her from cooking on the stove when she's alone. Probably after filling the house with smoke or melted something, at least if we're lucky and that's as far as it goes.

I'm wondering if maybe your individual microwave trays and leftovers are a good place to develop from. How about having cooking sessions once a week or every other week where you cook a bunch of meals together and then pack them in these containers/trays for her to warm in the microwave throughout the week. Store them in the freezer and she can take a few out to defrost in the fridge for a few days so she is doing menu planning throughout the week and then warm them in the microwave before serving. I know Amazon has a bunch of options for freeze and cook containers and there may very well be options that can withstand the oven too in case she does that by mistake but the system would be set up for the microwave not using it would be making a mistake on her part. You could cut the power to the stove/oven too to prevent any mistakes but maybe if the plan doesn't include them for rewarming (remember the food was originally cooked on stove in oven) she wont even notice the stove isn't working and have to think about why that is. The other options might be a crock pot, she/you could set up freezer bags with the ingredients for a meal and all she needs to do is take a bag say of stew out dump it in the crock pot (with a crock pot liner placed in first) in the morning, frozen or partly frozen is fine, turn it on and it's ready for dinner. The liner makes clean up a breeze too. Directions can be written on the freezer bags (I love the vacu-seal system) or on cards secured to the fridge or cabinet or appliance depending on how universal. This way she has prepped and cooked the meal from start to finish including warming it up for consumption but there is no reason for her to use the oven or stove when no one else is around but that doesn't need to be the focus. Maybe the ease of nightly meals this way is the draw or maybe this would be a big help for you because you need to streamline weekday dinner's and having her help might be just what you need to get into a system... Just a thought but I do think you were on to something with the container idea and might be able to find an answer there.

Good luck, as I write this I'm realizing that not only am I not looking forward to having to address this with mom now at some point, I'm dreading the day I need to stop using the stove but don't see it and put my son through having to navigate me through this life change.
My mom would continually put something on the stove, walk away and forget. She would be napping in the bedroom while a pot burned in the kitchen. After trying various ways to get her to pay attention while cooking and tossing out 1/2 dozen ruined pots/pans, I gave up and removed the burners from the stove. If needed I would have pulled the fuse for the oven as well.

I bought a simple steamer with auto-shutoff and she also has a microwave. It's impressive all the foods you can make in the steamer, making the stove top obselete in a way. I also offered to get her a countertop oven like mine which operates on a timer. I cook and prepare single meals for the freezer which she can heat up easily.

There was a bit of a battle at first. She felt insulted when I removed the burners and had quite the attitude about it, but when she realized there are other options and I would get her anything she wanted, the only rule being it must have auto shutoff, it was all good.

The other house rule that I won't back down from is when it is a matter of health or safety for any member of the household, I have final say-with love.

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