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Apr 20, 2011 09:54 AM

Safe, easy gas stove/oven for elderly parents

My parents need to replace their ancient gas-spewing (pilot light goes out constantly and they do not notice) behemoth O'Keefe & Merritt stove.

My parents are in their mid-'80s and my mom has very poor vision.

As we have looked around for a new stove we find so many of them with complicated (for my parents) electronics, and display panels that are behind the burners, which my mom can't see to operate.

Can anyone recommend a safe, easy to use (with old-fashioned knobs), no pilot to light, very basic, no bells and whistles needed. They are very basic cooks.


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  1. Are you sure you want a gas stove? I'd be nervous about sleeves catching in the flames, or them forgetting to turn them off.

    I'd be inclined to use a combination of microwave and maybe an induction burner. If they make tea you can get electric kettles that automatically shut off if they boil dry. If they do more extensive cooking, perhaps an electric flat-top stove. We have a flat-top cooktop and a separate electric wall oven. The stovetop knobs are all front and center, and I put bright orange electrical tape on them to make it easier for my low vision SO to use. An induction cooktop might also be nice, although they're pricey.

    1. Hmmm....they're elderly; they don't notice when the gas pilot goes out; they have poor vision. A gas range is definitely contraindicated here. Induction would be safest, a smooth top electric range would also be a good option.

      1. I agree with those recommending an induction cooktop.

        No open flame.
        The cooking surface stays cool.
        Can't leave it on accidentally.
        Built-in timers (mine beeps every 1 minute, beeps twice every 5 minutes).
        Easy to clean.
        Big bar-graph displays.
        Some have braille on the control panels.

        5 Replies
        1. re: tanuki soup

          I have been looking into induction for myself, and I have talked to my parents about it. Their concern is that it will be too difficult to learn a new way to cook. They are so used to gas, and have a lot of trouble adapting. (We got them a new toaster oven and a new microwave a year ago, and they still do not know how to work those.) But perhaps it's worth a another go-round on this, thanks for your suggestions! Does anyone have any comments on how difficult it might be to learn the ways of induction?

          1. re: beaninn

            I'd suggest getting them a portable induction hotplate so they can see how they like it. Even if they don't want to make the switch (or if they do, for that matter), it will be a handy thing to have around the house. You can use it as an extra burner, on the tabletop for dishes like Japanese nabe, or as a warming dish for serving. It can also replace a slow cooker if you put a Le Creuset dutch oven on it.

            1. re: tanuki soup

              If they are anything like the way my elderly in-laws and parents were when they were still around, they will never understand induction. Yes, it is clearly the safest, but they need to be able to read the controls, and figuring out what pots work will be a new adventure. Trying a portable burner is a good idea, and if it doesn't work out, the OP will have an extra burner to play with.

              Surely there has to be a way to operate the simplest of gas ranges out there. You don't have to use timers, etc. Just turn on the burner. Believe it or not, that clicking ignition usually confuses them too. My mother insisted on using a match, since she never believed the electronic ignition was going to work. Or worse, she would turn the gas up as high as possible and wait for the ignition to ignite it in a big "poof". That made her afraid of the ignition. Also, she washed the stove with too much water and often temporarily disabled the electronic controls, hence her preference for a match.

              Have they ever used electric? I'm talking real electric, not smooth. Smooth cooktops will undoubtedly confuse them too, as they are likely not going to realize when a surface remains hot, and probably won't be able to figure out the settings either.

              My advice is to go low-end gas range, and find one with controls way in front that are simple to operate. Get them used to the ignition, and this may require quite a few repetitions. No controls on the side or in the back -- way too dangerous.

              1. re: tanuki soup

                I've been wanting to get a portable induction burner anyway -- do you have a suggestion for brand? Thanks!

                1. re: beaninn

                  Check amazon, I got an 1800 watt Max Burton for $80.

          2. Call the local gas company. My Wedgewood at the cabin (~1957) was not always lighting. The local propane company sent out a tech, he replaced several parts, some preemtive,

            1 Reply
            1. re: Alan408

              Thanks. Gas company has already been there several times, but I guess they have not found a solution.