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Toaster Ovens for the Elderly

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Elderly cooks who are replacing an old kitchen appliance, such as a toaster or toaster oven, must keep in mind that these devices have probably changed since they last purchased one. New technologies have given toaster ovens more features, but they have also added complexity to these once-basic gadgets. Luckily, there are still many toaster ovens that have simplistic designs and work great. The following characteristics will help you sift through the plethora of toasters available to you.

What to Look For in a Toaster Oven:

I. Simple Controls Overly complex control schemes can be a problem for anyone, but they can be a deal breaker for those who have difficulty remembering too many things at once. Toaster ovens generally don't need more than three dials or levers, which allow the user to set the cook time, temperature and timer. Don't be lured in by the convection oven with 2,000 settings unless this will be your primary cooking gadget and you’re pretty confident you’ll need (not to mention use) all those settings. II. Big Buttons/Dials and Easy to Read Print If a senior is dealing with diminished motor skills or vision, make sure the toaster dials or levers are large enough to see clearly and grip easily. Any commands should be well spaced and easy to feel so that a senior with diminished sensitivity in their fingers can easily work the controls. Print on the toaster should be large and written in an easy to read font. Look for toaster ovens with big buttons or grip-friendly dials that are clearly marked and easy to manipulate. III. Good Hand Clearance or Auto-Eject Wire Rack As we get older, our hands can become less steady, making the act of reaching inside a hot toaster oven to retrieve food dangerous. Having a compact toaster oven is nice, but it will provide minimal hand clearance. Look for toasters with plenty of space between the wire rack and the heating element. If a smaller toaster is preferred, look for a toaster with an auto-eject wire rack, which pulls out automatically when the oven door is opened. IV. Crumb Tray in Front Keeping a toaster oven clean is an important safety measure that should be followed to avoid a potential fire. Most crumb trays are found on the bottom of the toaster - either as a pull-out tray or a trap door. The best elder-friendly toaster ovens, however, will have a crumb tray that pulls out in front so the toaster doesn't have to be moved or lifted. V. Auto Shut-Off If memory is an issue, then food left toasting or baking unattended is at risk for burning or even catching fire. A key safety feature is an auto shut-off timer. Look for a toaster oven that has an auto shut-off timer of 30 to 60 minutes. ElderGadget reviewed the following toaster ovens in person for their elder-friendliness. Here’s what we found. Cuisinart TOB-50BC Classic 6-Slice Toaster Oven Broiler, Brushed Stainless Steel Elder friendly features: simple controls, big dials, 60-min auto shut-off, good hand clearance Con: crumb tray pulls out in back Conclusion: The Cuisinart TOB-50BC has most of the features you need in an elder-friendly toaster, but the crumb tray is in the back. The tray is also very shallow, which leads to crumbs spilling inside the toaster, making it difficult to clean. Black & Decker CTO4400B Perfect Broil Large-Capacity Countertop Convection Oven Elder friendly features: auto-eject wire rack, crumb tray in front, easy to read, good hand clearance, 60-min auto-off Con: stiff smooth knobs, machine gets hot Conclusion: The Black & Decker CTO4400B is a nice, simple toaster oven with great safety features. The only drawbacks are the knobs, which are stiff and smooth, therefore, hard to grip, and how hot the unit gets while in use. Black & Decker TROS1500B SpaceMaker Traditional Toaster Oven, Black Elder friendly features: simple controls, large dials Con: minimal hand clearance, small print, crumb tray not detachable Conclusion: This toaster is good for people who have limited counter space and need a toaster that can hang above a counter. The small size can be dangerous, however, because of the limited hand clearance; we would have liked to see an auto-eject wire rack with this model. Kenmore 6 Slice Convection Toaster Oven (Update: This item may not be available at this time. 10/22/2009) Elder friendly features: simple controls, big dials, crumb tray in front, 60-min auto shut-of, good hand clearance Con: small print Conclusion:This toaster has most of the features we are looking for in an elder-friendly toaster. However, it does have small print, which seems to come with the territory when it comes to toasters. < Breville BOV800XL The Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ Elder friendly features: vision friendly controls, lots of hand clearance, big controls, auto-eject wire rack Con: complicated, foil not recommended, machine gets hot Conclusion: The Breville BOV800XL is a feature-rich oven that offers fairly simple controls for setting the temperature and time. The instruction manual is large, and there is a learning curve. Only pick up this toaster if you are comfortable with memorizing digital controls. DeLonghi DO400 1400-Watt Digital Control 4-Slice Toaster Oven Elder friendly features: auto shut-off, large buttons, easy to read, loud beeping Con: excessive buttons, hot externally, loud beeping Conclusion: Although the DeLonghi DO400 has some elder-friendly features, the button scheme is a little complex for a toaster. It beeps very loudly, which could be helpful for someone with poor hearing, but it could also be very annoying. Black & Decker TRO964 Classic Countertop 1350-Watt Toaster Oven Elder friendly features: simple controls, large dials, auto-eject wire rack, 30-min auto shut-off Con: small print, crumb tray is not easy to access, wire rack is flimsy Conclusion: This toaster is as simple as it gets and has some nice safety features. Cleaning will be difficult because the crumb tray is a trap door that requires you to lift the toaster to open it up. Cuisinart TOB-195 Exact Heat Toaster Oven Broiler, Stainless Elder friendly features: good hand clearance Con: small print, flat buttons, complicated controls Conclusion: This toaster oven can do it all and would be great for someone who needs a microwave alternative. If you are looking for a simple, elder-friendly toaster, however, then this probably isn't for you.

Main Features

Product type Household
Manufacturer: Black & Decker
Type of appliance: Electric oven

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  • maria 04-13-2011 06:02 AM
    Hey have you guys rated the proctor silex Compact Toaster Oven/Broiler MODEL: 31112Y this is a 2 slice toaster oven
    or the Proctor Silex 31117 this is the 4 slice toaster oven.

    can not find too much info on this one?
  • K Obrien 08-22-2011 02:13 PM
    If you are still looking for a toaster (as I am too) that has an automatic shut-off feature, my sister has one by Euro Pro. I don't know the model # but I did find out that Best Buy carries that brand.
  • Karin 03-15-2011 12:12 PM
    Yes, that, and a lever rather than knobs. ALL the ones with knobs are not only hard to read but very diffficult to turn and must be reset each time it seems. Turn past ten then BACK. And a grid that pulls out when opening the door. Mom's old Proctor Silex is still the best but reading the lettering on the oven function is impossible now.
  • kejia 03-05-2011 11:51 AM
    I'd stay away from Black and Decker -- their toaster ovens burn everything unless you stand right there and watch every minute.
  • MLR 03-01-2011 08:20 AM
    I am care giver to my 86 year old mother in law. After our recent experience, I personally feel that toaster ovens are dangerous for the elderly. She still remembers how she cooked 30+ years ago using her old toaster oven.

    Things have changed. She has changed. She can no longer stand up and monitor her cooking for any length of time. It is very unsafe to put something into a toaster oven or on the stove and then go sit down in another room. This is how she cooks. She will put soup on the stove to 'warm' - but uses high heat and it burns.

    She has her own kitchenette with a perfectly good oven and a microwave. She hates the microwave because she sets it for MINUTES instead of seconds when warming or cooking and everything turns to rubber. Again, she puts something into it and then sits down.

    Last night while we were away, she got out her OLD toaster oven and baked Bisquick biscuits. The toaster oven got very hot. She did not leave enough clearance around it and had a bag of popcorn on the counter behind the microwave. The bag melted and popcorn went everywhere. Of course she was unable to clean it up.

    Her coordination isn't what it was 30 years ago. Her hands are stiff. Her memory is short. Had there been something really flammable near the toaster oven, there could have been a fire and with her limited dexterity it could have been a disaster. She has decided her old unit is unsafe but wants another one.

    We know it is hard to adjust to changing circumstances and stop doing what we have always done. But, for safety reasons, we cannot recommend purchasing a toaster oven for someone with limited dexterity. I am very glad her old one no longer works and we will not be purchasing another.
  • Annie 03-18-2011 07:47 AM
    My mother is 89 and has set pita bread on fire a few times in our toaster oven. Does anyone know of a toaster oven that shuts itself off when is SENSES that the bread is done or about to burn? A 60 minute shut off is fine for cooking, but I need one that shuts for toasting. Thanks!
  • Elizabeth 05-09-2011 09:51 AM
    I agree...I am looking for one with a lever to replace my 85 yr old mothers Proctor Silex. I have purchased 3 so far and none will work for her. I hate the move past 10 minutes feature as she can not move it back to toast. I have a Black and Decker one like that at work and it bakes my toast instead of toasting it and usually it ends up burned. I can just imagine what would happen for my mom.
  • robinstranger 12-02-2009 06:01 PM
    Dear Author www.eldergadget.com !
    Clearly, many thanks for the information.
  • Ellen Leone 01-31-2010 08:47 AM
    Good info! Are there any toaster ovens that shut off when the door is opened? Black and Decker used to make one, but I can't find any brand that seems to offer this feature. It helps to keep from burning things. Thanks.