The kitchen is the heart of the home. As soon as the kids get home from school, it’s their first stop, as they search for a snack and the chance to share about their day. It’s the place family members gather to prepare holiday meals together. It is also a place to warm up a cup of milk and find some quiet, reflective solace when sleep is elusive.
The kitchen can also be the setting of so many special memories for someone with dementia. Cooking engages numerous senses, making it an excellent activity to unlock the doors of reminiscence. The rhythmic chopping of vegetables, the sizzle of ingredients in a pan, as well as the enticing aroma of a well-seasoned dish can stir great memories, sparking joy and connection.
If you’d like to add helpful cooking tips for seniors with dementia to your dementia care toolbox, these tips will help.
- Take time to prepare. An organized approach, with ingredients lined up and ready and step-by-step instructions provided, will help ensure a far more seamless and enjoyable experience.
- Stay social. Cooking with an older loved one is meant to be a time of bonding, turning the kitchen into a place of laughter, shared stories, and strengthened bonds.
- Don’t complicate it. Use uncomplicated recipes with familiar ingredients to promote a sense of accomplishment. If the person has a box of recipes or favorite cookbook, this is an excellent place to start. Identify several recipe options that would be easy to prepare, and then discuss which ones may spark interest. Or, you can search on the internet for simple recipes according to the person’s particular tastes.
- Make it personal. Consider the preferences and capabilities of the individual. Activities like kneading dough, rolling out cookies, or tossing a salad can be confidence-boosting, empowering, and reinforce a sense of purpose while triggering memories.
While creating an Instagramable meal is always a plus, it should never be the goal when cooking with someone with dementia. Rather, focus on each one of the senses utilized and tap into any memories that may come to the surface.
Perhaps, for example, you are making an apple pie. You can discuss how smooth the crust feels while you roll it out and the powdery flour that puffs into the air while you sprinkle it on the dough. Point out the sound of the apples being chopped, the delicious cinnamon butter aroma while the pie bakes. And naturally, enjoy a piece of the finished product together, encouraging any stories along the way that the individual would like to share.
At Golden Harmony, our professional dementia caregivers are available to include culinary experiences into an older adult’s care plan. Contact us at 919-426-7522 for more information on our dementia care services in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, and the surrounding areas.