The Best Microwave for Seniors

While operating a microwave oven might seem fairly simplistic to you, it might not be the case for senior citizens experiencing diminishing memory, sight, or cognitive abilities. Operating microwaves that are overly complicated can pose challenges to some seniors. Here are some of the best microwave ovens on the market – all 4 of them were selected on the basis of usability, safety features, and customer feedback. Take a look at their features and decide which model is best for you or that special person you are buying it for.

STAR PICK
Westinghouse Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven

Commercial Chef Countertop Microwave Oven, 0.6 Cu. Ft, Black
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With a control scheme that is almost completely based on large round dials, there are no complicated menus, LED’s, or buttons for users to confuse themselves with. There are two mechanical dial controls – one for the temperature, and the other for setting the timer. Markings on the dials are large and extremely legible. Six easy to select cooking power levels allow this microwave to instantly switch into a certain temperature range suitable for cooking a specific type of food (low for warming up, medium for de-frosting veggies, and high for cooking or preparing a frozen dinner).

Besides being easy to operate, this oven is also very easy to maintain, making it much easier on you or anyone tasked with cleaning the microwave. The removable glass turntable is dishwasher-friendly, and the small 0.6 cubic foot interior can be cleaned within a few minutes. There is a simple 30-minute timer which makes everything easier and in terms of heating power, this microwave oven is rated at 600W.

STAR BUDGET PICK
Culinair Microwave Oven

Culinair AM723B AM730 700W Microwave Oven, Black
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With its simple-to-use preset buttons, and easy to open yet secure push button front door, the AM723B from Culinair serves as an ideal small microwave oven for seniors as well as bachelors or students living in dorms/small apartments. You can choose to defrost based on speed or weight, and there are multiple temperature presets for several types of food such as potato, pizza, soup, frozen dinner, popcorn, and reheat.

There are 10 power levels, and they can be accessed by pressing large, illuminated buttons on the front panel. The buttons give tactile feedback, letting you “feel” the activation when you press them. The door is extremely secure and will not open accidentally, yet you can open it easily by pushing in the button to disengage the door lock. It has a capacity of 0.7 cubic feet, and a power rating of 700W.

RUNNER-UP
Nostalgia Retro Series Microwave Oven

Nostalgia RMO770RED Retro 0.7 Cubic Foot Microwave Oven, Cu.Ft Red
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Nostalgia electronics specializes in manufacturing kitchen appliances that have a vintage sort of look and feel to them. But hey, some people will love the retro looks, but will they able to use it comfortably? After all this is a modern age microwave oven, with a 0.7 cubic foot interior and 700 watts of cooking power.

The answer to that is YES. This is what the Nostalgia Electronics has in terms of controls – one huge central turn and push style knob, 4 buttons, and a giant circular LED touch display. That’s all. One giant mechanical knob and 4 buttons for manual control, and one single LED backlit touch dial to select automatic presets. You can either select a preset out of 12 directly from the touch LED display, or they can simply rotate the manual timer dial if they like the feel of a mechanical control.

Extra security is ensured by integrating a push mechanism into the dial – you need to push it in after you rotate the dial to the desired spot in order to confirm the selection. This will prevent overheating mishaps, and the gigantic LED display is illuminated with a blue backlight, so anyone with vision difficulty can easily read it.

RUNNER-UP

Frigidaire FFCM0724LB 700-watt Countertop Microwave, 0.7 Cubic Feet, Black
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While the digital controls and buttons on the front panel might seem like they may be too complicated at first, you will be pleased to know that nearly all of the buttons on the front panel are basically triggers to activate automatic presets, all you need to do is press the button for the respective preset, and your food will automatically be cooked at the appropriate temperature and the microwave will shut itself off after the expiry of the timer.

There are 10 power levels that you can select manually, and they are distributed on a large phone-keypad style panel that features large square shaped buttons with backlighting and every single button has a tactile feel that lets off a “click” sound and special tactile input to let you know when you press it. This is especially useful for seniors who have diminished senses and eyesight, or for people who are unable to read the digits of a standard LCD display.

Talking of LCD displays, there is one on this oven. It is equipped with the three most used commands – defrost, reheat, and auto-cook. There is a safety lock button, along with easy to set start and stop buttons with 4 preset modes – popcorn, potatoes, beverage, and fresh veggies. This oven features a 0.7 cubic foot capacity, along with a 9.6” glass turntable and 700 watts of cooking power.

Choosing the Best Microwave for Seniors

So, how do you choose a microwave oven for a senior citizen? Of course your primary concern should be whether or not they can use it, but don’t underestimate the importance of safety. The last thing you want your loved one to do with the microwave is start a fire in the house. After usability and safety, the next point of focus should be the size and power of the microwave. You normally should only get countertop style microwaves since they feature the simplest designs and are easy to access for older users. Any oven with more than 600 W of heating power should be more than sufficient for reheating, de-frosting, and cooking stews, soups, porridge’s, etc.

You also don’t need a standard sized microwave for most seniors, in fact since generally they are the only ones who the microwave is for, you should always get a smaller microwave to save on space, power, and most importantly, a smaller microwave has less power and hence there is less chance of any dangerous accident happening. Look for a microwave with 0.5-0.7 cubic feet of storage space inside. There should be no need for many attachments such as turntables, skewers, etc. since you normally won’t be making any fancy dishes in it, nor will most users decide to cook pizzas, kebabs, or whole chickens in it.

To summarize, get a microwave with few controls and easy-to-access buttons or dials. The microwave should be capable of outputting voice messages to signal when a dish is done, and the timer as well as temperature settings need voice confirmation or should be displayed on large LCD panels. Try to get a microwave with as simplistic of a control panel as you can, since elderly users suffer from diminished cognitive abilities and are normally incapable of carrying out tasks that require focus and precision. Make sure that the door is easy to open, and there is an auto-shutoff system in the microwave that triggers whenever the timer expires, or if the temperatures exceed a certain limit.

Microwave Oven Buying Guide for Seniors

Microwave ovens were first introduced commercially back in 1947 by the company Raytheon, and their product was called the “Radarange”. It was about 1.8 meters tall, and weighed about 750 pounds (340 kilograms). The Radarange was truly humongous compared to the microwaves of today, which you can find in just about any modern house that has a kitchen in it. Microwave technology has truly advanced a lot in the last 50 or 60 years, and the ovens of today are much more affordable, easier to operate, extremely power efficient (the Radarange consumed 3 kilowatts of power), and are very safe to use.

STAR PICK
Westinghouse Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven

Commercial Chef Countertop Microwave Oven, 0.6 Cu. Ft, Black
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But no matter how simple and easy things get, products such as the microwave oven are not really designed with a specific set of people in mind. What we mean is, all manufacturers try to reach out to the largest possible consumer base and include features that most of us will find useful. But there are times when even the most convenient of home appliances is not appropriate for your needs. You can grill, bake, toast, heat, defrost, and barbeque with any decent microwave.

You can do all that with a couple button presses or a few swipes on the touchscreen of your fancy new smart microwave. But your grandparent may not understand and implement all those functions, even if you find it to be second nature. Microwaves are often used to defrost food and if you have hired an attendant to watch over your loved ones, then a microwave is a super handy way of instantly reheating or defrosting readily available meals. You can prepare soups and stews within a few minutes inside a microwave oven, and it will barely consume any power.

The best part about a microwave is that if you want to prepare a cup of coffee or tea, you only prepare a cup. Not a whole jug, like with conventional cooking methods that use a heat source to cook food, most of that heat is wasted in the form of radiation through the air and utensils. Microwaves save both time and energy, which is why they are so popular. But how do you choose the right microwave for a senior citizen? There are a certain set of features that you should look for in a microwave, which will make it suitable for your parent or grandparent.

The most basic of all is the fact that a microwave must be extremely simple and easy to operate. You know how your parents/grandparents struggle with modern technological appliances such as smartphones, computers, and even the TV. The last thing you want to do is buy a microwave with a touchscreen, advanced programmability, or a bunch of buttons on the front panel that will make the process more difficult than it needs to be.

Why do Seniors Need a Special Type of Microwave?

Well, this should be obvious. As people age, they have diminished cognitive ability and weaker hand-eye coordination compared to most others. It means that small buttons, lots of buttons, multiple operating modes, power levels, switches, etc. are all hard to operate for some senior citizens. Touchscreens are another thing that seniors may have trouble with. The issue with microwaves is that they can be as dangerous as they are convenient. Accidentally leaving food inside the microwave for much more than the stipulated time can result in a potential fire.

Some people might have Alzheimer’s or sleeping disorders that cause them to forget very easily, or even fall asleep after they put something in the oven. That is why you need a special type of microwave, one that is equipped with features to save both your loved ones and the home from a dangerous accident that might occur due to improper operation. Don’t worry, there are plenty of such models out there. You just need to know what to look for, and we shall talk about that in the next section.

You don’t need to get a microwave that has a 1 cubic foot capacity and a bunch or removable grilling racks or a larger turntable that is designed to accommodate big stuff such as whole chickens or pizzas. You see, the microwave you are buying for them will probably be used to reheat ready-to-eat meals, cook soup and stew, or reheat a cup of tea or coffee. Any basic microwave can do that, and you most probably won’t need any more than 0.6 cubic feet of capacity, since the microwave is probably for one or two people at most. Small, simple, and secure – those are the features that a good microwave is expected to have.

Considerations when Purchasing a Microwave for a Senior Citizen

Below, we have listed all the points that you need to take into consideration while choosing a microwave for seniors. All points have been arranged in order of priority, starting with most important.

Ease of Use
Look for a microwave that has few but large buttons, limited programmability, and easy to set timers (we recommend getting a model that has no more than 30 minutes of range on the timer). If there are one touch cook buttons on the front panel for certain types of food such as coffee, potatoes, popcorn, etc. then that will make life easier for the user.

Soup, stew, coffee, potatoes, etc. are common food items that are consumed on a near regular basis, and with one-touch cook function you can just put the food in and press the respective button, after which the microwave will automatically adjust the timer and temperature. Make sure you get a model with an easy to open door, preferably one that does not have a push-button to open the door.

STAR PICK
Westinghouse Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven

Commercial Chef Countertop Microwave Oven, 0.6 Cu. Ft, Black
View on Amazon

Even though they might be more secure in terms of door locking, some elderly users tend to forget the location of the door lock button, or they simply can’t operate it comfortably while also trying to put food in with one hand. See-through front doors are a must, and make sure that the timer gives out a loud beep when food is done. Seniors can suffer from hearing issues, so the timer alarm should be loud.

Safety Mechanisms
Some modern microwaves come with humidity sensors that automatically detect when the food is done cooking, and will turn off the microwave automatically. We highly recommend these types of microwaves, since most accidents with microwaves occur due to people leaving food in there for too long (they either fall asleep or forget about the food), and that eventually can result in a fire or electrical short circuit.

Make sure that the microwave which you get has an auto shutdown feature which will instantly cut the power when thermal or electrical limits are crossed. Door open beepers and alarm sounds must be super loud. Even though loud alarms might seem annoying to most, they are the best way to ensure that an older user gets to know about the status of food in the microwave.

Power and Capacity
Don’t go for anything above 25 litres, or about 0.5 to 0.8 cubic feet of capacity. This is a microwave which will be used by one or two persons, and you most likely won’t be using it to prepare pizza or whole chickens/turkey. In terms of power, 700 to 800 watts is the recommended value.

That much is sufficient for a small microwave, and while food might take a little bit longer to cook, speed won’t be an issue. Besides, a more powerful microwave will do more damage if an accident occurs due to lack of supervision of improper usage.

Features
Removable grill racks, turntables, convection heating, and toast/grill/barbeque/bake are all optional. Get a microwave that can do these only if you are sure that the senior for whom you are buying the microwave will be using the device for grilling or baking or making barbeque.

Otherwise, the price premium that you pay is simply not worth it, and these features only add to the overall complexity of operating the oven. Adjustable timers, intelligent scheduling, automatic temperature adjustment – all these are advanced features and will serve no purpose other than to confuse most people.

Conclusion

It must be clear by now that senior citizen friendly microwaves are nothing special, and they are just simple to operate versions of conventional microwaves. Sometimes, if you can’t find the above-mentioned qualities in a current model, try looking for an older model. Those have large knobs and hinged doors without push lock buttons.

The timers on older models are easier to set, and the beepers or alarms are also quite loud. Basically, you want something that is compact, easy to setup and use, doesn’t consume a lot of power, and has large controls that are easy to operate. Automatic shutdown is a big deal, so we recommend paying extra to get that feature if you can, since it will prevent your loved one from overcooking the food.

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