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How to Find a Simple Microwave for Elderly and Seniors

simple microwave for elderly

Believe it or not, the act of getting something to eat can often wear out the elderly and disabled. The quick cooking ability of microwave ovens though are a huge help to the elderly and seniors. Microwaves can greatly improve kitchen safety for seniors, especially the ones who live alone. But, working with so many buttons, options, and controls is just plain confusing. This is especially true for a senior with dementia or Alzheimer's. So many buttons and options aren't always a good thing. Here is how to find the best simple microwave for elderly people and seniors.

Comparison Table of the Best Simple Microwaves

Photo
Westinghouse WCM660W 600 Watt Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven, 0.6 Cubic Feet, White
Samsung MS11K3000AS 1.1 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with Sensor and Ceramic Enamel Interior,...
Whirlpool WMC20005YW  Countertop Microwave, 0.5 Cu. Ft., White
Amana (RMS10DS) 0.8-Cubic Feet 1000-Watt Light Duty Microwave Oven with Dial Timer (Stainless Steel)
Sharp Medium-Duty Commercial Microwave Oven (15-0429) Category: Microwaves, R-21LVF
Product
Westinghouse WCM660W 600 Watt Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven, 0.6 Cubic Feet, White
Samsung MS11K3000AS 1.1 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with Sensor and Ceramic Enamel Interior,...
Whirlpool WMC20005YW Countertop Microwave, 0.5 Cu. Ft., White
Amana (RMS10DS) 0.8-Cubic Feet 1000-Watt Light Duty Microwave Oven with Dial Timer (Stainless Steel)
Sharp Medium-Duty Commercial Microwave Oven (15-0429) Category: Microwaves, R-21LVF
Simple Controls
Easy to Read
Release Handle
Sensor
Loud Ding
Wattage
600 W
1000 W
750 W
1000 W
1000 W
Size
0.6 Cu Ft
1.1 Cu Ft
0.5 Cu Ft
0.8 Cu Ft
1.0 Cu Ft
Photo
Westinghouse WCM660W 600 Watt Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven, 0.6 Cubic Feet, White
Product
Westinghouse WCM660W 600 Watt Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven, 0.6 Cubic Feet, White
Simple Controls
Easy to Read
Release Handle
Sensor
Loud Ding
Wattage
600 W
Size
0.6 Cu Ft
Photo
Samsung MS11K3000AS 1.1 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with Sensor and Ceramic Enamel Interior,...
Product
Samsung MS11K3000AS 1.1 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with Sensor and Ceramic Enamel Interior,...
Simple Controls
Easy to Read
Release Handle
Sensor
Loud Ding
Wattage
1000 W
Size
1.1 Cu Ft
Photo
Whirlpool WMC20005YW  Countertop Microwave, 0.5 Cu. Ft., White
Product
Whirlpool WMC20005YW Countertop Microwave, 0.5 Cu. Ft., White
Simple Controls
Easy to Read
Release Handle
Sensor
Loud Ding
Wattage
750 W
Size
0.5 Cu Ft
Photo
Amana (RMS10DS) 0.8-Cubic Feet 1000-Watt Light Duty Microwave Oven with Dial Timer (Stainless Steel)
Product
Amana (RMS10DS) 0.8-Cubic Feet 1000-Watt Light Duty Microwave Oven with Dial Timer (Stainless Steel)
Simple Controls
Easy to Read
Release Handle
Sensor
Loud Ding
Wattage
1000 W
Size
0.8 Cu Ft
Photo
Sharp Medium-Duty Commercial Microwave Oven (15-0429) Category: Microwaves, R-21LVF
Product
Sharp Medium-Duty Commercial Microwave Oven (15-0429) Category: Microwaves, R-21LVF
Simple Controls
Easy to Read
Release Handle
Sensor
Loud Ding
Wattage
1000 W
Size
1.0 Cu Ft

Last update on 2017-10-23 at 18:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Microwave Ovens: Safer for Seniors than Regular Ovens

Sometimes a regular oven is just no longer safe for some seniors. Even after changing to other options like lighter weight pots and pans. It is not at all uncommon for me to hear stories of my patients burning food because they fell asleep. Or forgetting to turn the oven off after use. Or catching a dish rag on fire because it was too close to the stove top. A microwave oven has a huge impact on kitchen safety for the elderly and seniors.

Making a loved one unplug an appliance they have used for years can cause hurt feelings and embarrassment. So, why not give them an alternative like a microwave oven? That way, they can still take care of their own food needs and not feel like a burden. Giving an item like this as a gift for a holiday or birthday is a great way to introduce it without seeming intrusive.

easy to use microwave on a kitchen counter

Benefits of a Microwave

Good nutrition and regular meals are very important for the overall health of older people. Microwave ovens offer the elderly and seniors an easy way to prepare their own food and snacks. They are great for precooking foods for seniors who need to puree their food. Especially ones who are still somewhat independent and live alone. Cans of food can be opened easily and heated up quickly for safe meals.

Choosing the right microwave will also help the elderly fix their meals more safely. They will be less likely to burn their food in a microwave. Fires, while possible, are also not as likely to happen with a microwave. Choosing a good, safe microwave oven for the senior in your life will bring peace of mind.

​What to Look For When Shopping for a Simple Microwave for Elderly Seniors

The best microwave oven for seniors is one that is simple, safe, and easy to clean. But what exactly makes a microwave oven simple. Here are some important features to consider that impact how easy a microwave is to use.​

  • Simple controls. For a senior to safely use a microwave it must have simple, easy to use controls. This it is also important that they not feel intimidated by the controls. Look for a microwave with basic rotary knobs. The larger the knob, the better. If buttons are the only option, find one with only a few buttons to help keep down confusion.
  • Easy to read. Look for large, easy to read print with lots of contrast. Black block print on a white background is best. 
  • Size. A huge microwave is not necessary for most elderly and seniors. But I recommend it be at least big enough to hold a dinner plate.
  • Release Handle. Many microwaves today have push buttons to open the doors. Make sure it is easy to push especially for arthritic hands. The old pull handle microwaves are probably the best option if you can find one. Pull strength is sometimes easier for seniors than pushing with fragile fingers
  • Auto-shut off sensor. Look for a microwave that senses when the food is done and shuts off automatically.  This prevents burning which causes a mess, bad smells, and even a little embarrassment.
  • Loud Ding! Make sure the senior can hear the sound letting them know that the food is ready. This can help with forgetful seniors.

A Few Things to Avoid:

  • Lots of buttons. Avoid microwaves with lots of buttons and features. Usually these will just lead to confusion and frustration. And the senior or elderly person will probably refuse to use it.
  • Small writing on dark glossy surfaces. This type of writing is hard to see. The glare from a dark glossy surface makes it worse. It will lead to wrong use of the microwave. Or they may not use it at all if they can't read the buttons.

How to Make an Existing Microwave Simpler for Seniors


If the elderly person has a microwave that they like but they are confused by the buttons, here is a tip. Cover the unneeded buttons up with black electrical tape. Maybe then the senior will forget about them!

front of a chrome microwave oven

Reviews of Microwaves for Elderly and Seniors

Now that you know what to look for, here are reviews of a few microwaves that should work well for the elderly. First, all the reviewed products will be listed in a comparison table. Then, the individual reviews will follow.

Best Budget Microwave for Seniors

Westinghouse WCM660W 600 Watt Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven

Most people looking for a new microwave would consider this one "cheap". It isn't loaded up with features or covered in buttons. It is just a simple, basic microwave. But that is exactly the best type of microwave for seniors and the elderly.

It uses just two very basic rotary dials: one sets power and the other is a timer. That's it. Just set the temperature and time and it is ready to go!

What I Like

  • Simple controls - microwave is controlled by 2 large, easy to grasp and turn dials. Only 6 temperature settings to choose from.
  • Easy to read with bold black print on a white background.
  • Large enough to hold a dinner plate for reheats. Interior size is height 7-13/16" X width 12-3/8" X depth 11-9/16.
  • Large pull handle for easier grasping and pulling.
  • Loud , audible bell ding.

What I Don't Like

  • No Auto shut-off. It is possible for a confused senior to over cook because the user can turn the dial over to 30 minutes and forget about it.

I highly recommend this simple microwave for elderly people who just want a low maintenance, easy to use appliance. Definitely no frills but very straightforward. Make sure the user understands how to set the dial to the proper time. Not a good choice for seniors with dementia who can't set the time properly.

Westinghouse WCM660W 600 Watt Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven, 0.6 Cubic Feet, White
  • 6 convenient cooking power levels (high, med/high, medium, med/low, defrost, low)
  • A 30 minute timer with audible end of cooking signal
  • Easy to grasp grip type handle to open and close the door
  • Mechanical, rotary dial controls make it great for those seeking simple, basic operation
  • 600 watts of cooking power

Last update on 2017-10-23 at 18:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Cheapest Microwave with Auto Shut-off Sensor

Samsung MS11K3000AS Countertop
Microwave Oven with Sensor

I thought this microwave was going to have a lot of potential for seniors. It is one of the least expensive microwaves that has a sensor option. The sensor monitors the vapor in the unit and adjusts the cook time as needed. This prevents burning and over cooking.

However, the sensor controls seem difficult to use. I don't think many elderly people will understand how to set the time on this. It does not have a standard timer and requires multiple steps to just to cook a frozen dinner. 

Here's a video showing how to use the sensor cooking:

What I Like

  • Interior size is just large enough to hold a dinner plate.
  • Large pull handle is easy to pull and open.
  • ​When done, the "ding" isn't very loud but sounds again every 30 seconds if not opened.
  • Does offer sensor cooking to prevent over cooking but the controls are too difficult to understand for most seniors.

What I Don't Like

  • The controls are difficult to understand and use. Multiple steps are required for even the most basic functions.
  • Text above the buttons is small and hard to read. Seniors who have low vision will not be able to adequately read the buttons.

I am not recommending this microwave for the elderly or seniors. The controls are too difficult to use and understand. Buttons are also too difficult to read. There are definitely better models to consider for seniors.

Samsung MS11K3000AS 1.1 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with Sensor and Ceramic Enamel Interior,...
  • Effortlessly remove grease or oil from surfaces and protect against scratches that occur from daily...
  • Automatically adjusts cooking time with vapor-sensing technology for optimal results
  • Easy to use dial control allows you to add or decrease time while cooking, adding convenience and...
  • Three microwave distribution points to cook food evenly and thoroughly. Product Weight (lb.)-31.9...
  • Striking blue LED display adds clarity and style to your kitchen

Last update on 2017-10-23 at 18:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Best Space-Saving Microwave for Elderly and Seniors

Whirlpool WMC20005YW 0.5 Cu. Ft.
White Countertop Microwave

This is the most unique-looking microwave I have ever seen. It is also unique in how it operates. But it also has a very small footprint. It's designed to fit in the corner of a kitchen which saves a ton of space.

This microwave also has some great features that make it a good choice for elderly and seniors.In addition to being easy to read and operate, it can also be programmed to simplify how it works for seniors who may be easily confused.

Here is a quick video review by a user:

What I Like

  • Controls are fairly simple. Time is entered 30 seconds at time to prevent overcooking. Also, the "reheat" button can be programmed to run only for a certain time and setting.
  • The white print on the buttons is white block print on a black background and is fairly easy to read.
  • Easily holds a full size dinner plate.  11-1/" deep interior.
  • While there is not a "handle" this microwave opens easily by pulling the door from the side.
  • Uses a loud bell ding that is loud enough for most elderly.

What I Don't Like

  • If this microwave had an auto shut-off sensor, it would be nearly perfect for seniors. The way this microwave works makes it difficult for seniors to overheat or burn their food. But it is possible.

I really like the simplicity of this microwave for the senior population. While it does have a few more buttons than I normally recommend, ​I love that the reheat button can be programmed for safety. Then the user can be trained to use that button for reheats! There is even a lock-out setting to prevent the microwave from being reprogrammed.  

Whirlpool WMC20005YW Countertop Microwave, 0.5 Cu. Ft., White
  • This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process...

Last update on 2017-10-23 at 18:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Most Simple Microwave for Elderly and Seniors

Amana RMS10DS Light Duty
Microwave Oven with Dial Timer

If simple is what you are looking for, then simple is what you get with this microwave oven! To control this microwave, all you need to do is turn a dial to set the time.  That is it!  No other button!. No other knobs!

This microwave is a commercial grade microwave so you will pay a little more for it than some of the others. But it is a quality item that should offer a safe microwave for you or your loved one.

What I Like

  • Extremely simple to use. Simply turn a dial to set the timer (from 15 sec to 6 min). That's it!
  • The lettering on the dial is high-contrast white on black with bold, block print making it easy to read.
  • Holds a full sized dinner plate for quick and easy reheats.
  • Pull handle opens the door easily with a light pull
  • Loud bell dings when food is ready

What I Don't Like

  • No auto shut-off sensor. I would like to see this option on a microwave in this price range. If it had a sensor, this would be the simplest and safest microwave.

Keep in mind, the simplicity of these controls means a lack of options. There are no adjustments for power levels or temperature.

This is the best choice for a simple, easy to use microwave for elderly and seniors. All they need to understand is how to set the cooking time. There are no other features or buttons to confuse them!

Amana (RMS10DS) 0.8-Cubic Feet 1000-Watt Light Duty Microwave Oven with Dial Timer (Stainless Steel)
  • SIMPLE TO OPERATE: The classic dial timer can be set anywhere from 15 seconds to 6 minutes and...
  • SPACIOUS INTERIOR: The 0.8 cu. ft. capacity can accommodate a 12'' platter, prepackaged foods, and...
  • SEE-THROUGH DOOR: The see-through door and lighted interior allow for monitoring without opening the...
  • EASY TO MAINTAIN: Stainless steel exterior wrap and interior for easy cleaning and a commercial...
  • WARRANTY: Amana Commercial Products warrants this product only when original purchaser uses the oven...

Last update on 2017-10-23 at 18:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Best Programmable Microwave for Seniors

Sharp Medium-Duty Commercial
Microwave Oven (15-0429)

This microwave has buttons that can be programmed for use with certain foods. For example, a reheat button can be established to run for 1 minute at full power. While this feature is designed for restaurant use, it also has benefits for elderly and seniors.

A setting could be set for soup, or frozen pizza, or frozen meals. This setting can be written on the label on the microwave. Then, the user can press the button for the type of food. Of course, in most instances, the programming would have to be done by someone with some tech savvy.

Check out this video highlighting the features of the Sharp 15-0429

What I Like

  • The controls would be easy for a senior after being programmed. Initially, someone would probably need to help with the initial set-up to make this simple to use.
  • While the basic writing on the front panel is small, the labels for the program button are big enough for large print. A senior could read these label pretty easily.
  • It does hold a full size dinner plate
  • The pull handle is easy enough for most seniors to open the microwave without much effort.
  • A loud bell sounds when the cycle is complete.

What I Don't Like

  • No auto-sensor is included for cooking but there is one for the defrost setting.
  • This is a pricey option because it is designed for commercial use. But the programming features offer benefits to a senior.

For those who have the budget for a high-end solution, this microwave could be the simplest for an elderly or senior person to use. It would probably require someone to program and set-it up. Then, the senior could use it quite easily.

Sharp Medium-Duty Commercial Microwave Oven (15-0429) Category: Microwaves, R-21LVF
  • Stainless steel exterior, interior and door.
  • Touch controls with 20 memories (10 pre-programmed).
  • Express defrost responds quickly with easy, last-minute defrosting.
  • 1000 Watts with a design made to stand up to regular medium duty commercial use.
  • Unit Dimensions: 20 1/2"W x 12 1/8"H x 16"D.

Last update on 2017-10-23 at 18:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Conclusion and Recommendations

Each of these microwave ovens offer seniors and the elderly varying levels of ease and safety. Choose the best microwave for the senior in your life by evaluating their current abilities but don't forget to consider their future needs too. For seniors who have difficulty feeding themselves, there are special utensils and even plates with raised edges that are helpful.

Remember that there are other steps in cooking that seniors and elderly may need help with. For example, with arthritis, opening cans and jars is often painful. But, there is a wide range of tools to make opening cans easier and opening jars less painful. Another item to consider is an easy to use coffee maker too.

For a truly simple microwave for elderly and seniors, go with the Amana microwave oven above. It has a simple, one dial operation that most any senior will understand and use without much difficulty.

Have you found a more simple microwave for elderly and seniors? How about any experiences with a senior using a microwave that you would like to share? Funny stories and recommendations are welcome!  Leave a comment below.

About the Author Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

I work daily with seniors and the elderly in my position as a wheelchair specialist at a home medical company. I see the struggle they have maintaining their independence and living their daily lives. Most are completely unaware of the options and products out there that can improve their independence, mobility, and safety in their home. I created this site to help seniors, elders, and their caregivers make smart buying decisions about the many independent living aids on the market.

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