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Microwave Ovens – A Breakthrough in Technology For the Seniors

The advancement of technology has been taking place since the dawn of human history. From the invention of basic items like spears and knives made out of rocks to aid the capturing and killing of animals for food to huge inventions like the printing press and computer, we have come a long way.

The advancement of technology has been exceptionally fast in the 20th and 21st century. With electronic technology and machines being produced and improved all the time, it has surely made human life easier.

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Most of us do not truly realize how far technology has come and what difference it makes to our lives. It was almost uncommon to own a television in your house nearly a century ago and now it is the most common pieces of technology we have. It is no longer surprising to know that someone owns a colored television but rather it is shocking to find out that someone down the street does not own a television. Technology has indeed become a part of our culture.

Invention of washing machines, mobile phones, printers, scanners, and ovens are some of the major breakthroughs in technology. One of the most common machines that are a result of advancement in technology is a microwave. 

What is a microwave?

A microwave oven is an extremely useful kitchen appliance that is present in nearly every U.S. home. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 90 percent of U.S. households have at least one microwave.

Microwave ovens are also known as electronic oven. It is an appliance that cooks food by means of high frequency electromagnetic waves known as microwaves. It is a small, boxlike oven that raises the temperature of food by subjecting it to high frequency electromagnetic field. These microwaves are absorbed by water, sugars, fats, and certain other molecules whose consequent vibrations produce heat. The heating thus occurs inside the food without heating any surroundings.  As a result, cooking time is decreased. Microwave ovens are safe to use and with so many easy to use microwaves for seniors, cooking and heating food has become an easy and safe task.

Invention of Microwave Oven

The invention of the microwave was actually an accidental invention by a self-taught engineer named Percy LeBaron Spencer. He worked on magnetrons which are vacuum tubes that produce microwave radiation and are used in radar systems. While he was testing a magnetron, he noticed that a chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. Curious and intrigued, he tested various other food items including popcorn kernels and noticed that they all popped.

By this time, Spencer had realized that the food items had been exposed to low-density microwave energy. After this, he built a metal box and fed microwave power into it. He realized that the energy entered in the box could not escape as microwaves cannot pass through metal. He finally filled a patent application in 1945.

The first commercial microwave was tested in a restaurant located in Boston in 1947. Eventually the use of microwave ovens grew in popularity, especially in the food industry. Restaurants could now heat food quickly and reduce wastage of food. Microwave ovens became popular in other industries too, and were used for roasting coffee beans and peanuts, defrosting and pre-cooking meat.

Are microwave ovens safe to use?

Microwave ovens are totally safe to use when used properly and maintained in a good condition, says World Health Organization (WHO). While massive amounts of radiation from microwave can be harmful, ovens are designed to keep the radiation within the oven and present only when the door is closed and power is switched on. A minimal amount of radiation that may leak through the glass door of the microwave oven is below international standards.

Microwaves can be used by people of any age group. It’s very simple to use a microwave oven. You just need to put the food inside it and switch it on with a button. Various simple to use microwaves for the elderly, and others as well are available in the market.

Microwaves for Seniors

Believe it or not, but the simple act of getting something to eat can make an elderly or disabled person tired. Due to this, microwave ovens have become extremely popular among elderly people. They also increase kitchen safety, especially for those elders who live alone. Many countertop microwaves for seniors are specially made to provide them with comfort and safety.

Buying a microwave is an essential to-do thing for most people either because they need to upgrade, the old one broke or it is for a new home. There are three types of microwaves – countertops, over the range and built in. Countertops are the most common and generally the most affordable among all three options. On the other hand, over the range and built in microwaves are costlier and require a professional installer.

Factors to Consider for Buying a Microwave Oven

It is best to use countertop microwaves for seniors as they don’t require any extra installation and if you need to move, they move with you. There are certain factors that one should keep in mind while buying a microwave.

Size and Capacity

You need to look for a microwave with enough capacity to cook for an entire family. If you are an elderly couple living alone, you can opt for a microwave with a small size and capacity. It is essential to evaluate the usable space inside a microwave. Usually, microwaves with two shelves are more practical, allowing you to use space efficiently.

Limitless Cooking Potential

A  microwave with extra convection and grill features can cut down on the hassle of cooking significantly. With features like these, you can roast, bake, and make the food appealing at the end. Grilling makes the food brown and crisp and makes it tastier. If you need a microwave only for basic things such as reheating food or simple cooking, you can ignore such features as it can be a bit complicated to use many features. Various easy to use microwave for seniors are available and you can opt for them.

Take Note of the Wattage

Higher wattage means that the food can cook faster. Almost all recipes mention that the microwave should produce at least 800 watts to ensure that the food is cooked or baked thoroughly and evenly. It is important to ensure that the microwave you are going to purchase has adequate power.

Additional Features

Some microwaves come with features that can help to ensure that meals are cooked with perfection every time. Programmable menu settings make it easy to select the correct option for certain foods such as cooking time and percentage power.

Humidity sensor can detect moisture levels and adjust cooking time accordingly. Programmable microwaves are best microwaves for elderly with dementia as such microwaves have buttons that can be programmed for use with certain foods. For instance, a reheat button can be set for 1 minute after which it itself turns off. This way, it is beneficial for forgetful seniors.

Easy to Understand Buttons

Safe microwaves for seniors must have easy to use and simple controls. It is important so that elderly people don’t feel intimidated by it. Working with too many buttons and controls can be a bit confusing.

It is especially true for elders with dementia. While many of us appreciate extra buttons and controls, it might not be a good thing for seniors and elders.

Easy to Read Button and Controls

It is important that seniors are able to read all the buttons and controls clearly. It is especially important for seniors with eyesight problems. If they read 10:00 as 1:00, it can lead to all kinds of issues like burns and injuries.

Look for safe microwave for seniors with large, easy to read text with lots of contrasts. Usually bold, black text on a white surface works best for seniors. Avoid microwaves with small writing on glossy surfaces as it is hard to see. It leads to wrong usage of microwave or elders may not use it at all since they aren’t able to understand it.

Auto Shut-off Sensor

One feature which every simple to use microwave for elderly must have is an auto shut-off sensor. Microwaves with this feature shut off automatically when the food is done. This can prevent burning.

Easy to use Release Handle

Some microwaves come with push button latches to open the door. Some of these can be really difficult to push so make sure if it’s easy to push or not before purchasing a microwave. The old pull handle microwaves are the best for elderly.

Must Have a Loud Ding

The sound that lets you know that food is ready is called a ding.  While buying a microwave for an elderly person, make sure that it has a loud ding so that the elder person can hear it easily. Microwaves that continue to make sound till the time they are switched off are also a good option safe option while buying countertop microwave for elderly.

Suggestion and Recommendations

While thinking of buying a safe microwave for seniors, don’t just evaluate their current abilities but also look out for their future abilities. Usually, microwaves with turn knobs and dial controls are simple to use.

If an elderly person really likes a microwave but gets confused due to lot of control buttons, cover the unneeded buttons with aa black electrical tape.

Think beyond the cooking part. Some people have difficulty in feeding themselves. For this, one can go for microwave safe utensils with raised edges that are helpful.

Amana Light Duty commercial microwave is a good microwave for elderly with dementia as it is simple to operate and has a loud ding.  Its door opens with a pull style handle and there are no extra buttons to confuse the elderly.

Whirlpool Silver Countertop, Samsung microwave oven, and Magic Chef Retro microwave ovens are other good options to consider while buying a safe microwave for elderly.


A regular oven is not always a safer option for elderly people. This can be frustrating and embarrassing for them as being able to feed oneself is a basic need.

Its common to hear stories of older people burning food because they fell asleep or forgot to turn off the oven. Making an elder person unplug an appliance that they loved for their safety can hurt them. So why not substitute it with a safer and easy to use appliance.

Microwaves have a huge impact on kitchen safety and thus makes sure that older people can still take care of their food needs themselves without feeling like a burden.

Using a microwave saves time and maintains the nutrients and water content of the food. They do not take too much space and prevents food from burning, making it easy to use microwave for seniors.

Microwaves are also a good option for seniors and it does not require too much of oil and thus allows to prepare a low-fat diet. Microwave cooking also preserves vitamins as food is not overcooked.

It a great gifting option for seniors. So keep the above mentioned factors in mind and take a wise decision while buying a safe microwave for seniors.