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Discover the Benefits of Cooking With Someone With Dementia

A caregiver is cooking with someone with dementia.

There is something so special about the kitchen. It is the very first stop kids make when they get home from school, in search of a snack as well as 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 heat up a cup of milk and find some quiet, reflective solace when sleep is elusive. And it’s a wonderful place to reap the benefits of cooking with someone with dementia.

For a person with dementia, the kitchen can evoke precious memories. Cooking engages multiple senses, which makes it an excellent activity to unlock the doors of reminiscence. The rhythmic chopping of vegetables, the sizzle of ingredients in a pan, and the tantalizing fragrance of a well-seasoned dish can stir positive memories, sparking joy and connection.

If you would like to add culinary techniques to your dementia care toolbox, these suggestions can help.

  • Keep it simple. Use uncomplicated recipes with familiar ingredients to build a feeling of accomplishment. If the person has a box of recipes or favorite cookbook, this is a great starting point. Choose several recipe options that would be simple to prepare, and then discuss which ones may spark interest. Or, you can search on the internet for simple recipes based on the person’s particular tastes.
  • Organize ahead of time. A structured approach, with ingredients lined up and ready and step-by-step instructions provided, will help ensure a more seamless and enjoyable experience.
  • Stay social. The idea should be to make the activity an occasion of togetherness, transforming the kitchen into a shared space where stories are exchanged, laughter is shared, and bonds are strengthened.
  • Make it personal. Think about the capabilities and preferences of the individual. Activities such as rolling out cookies, kneading dough, or tossing a salad can be confidence-boosting, empowering, and reinforce a feeling of purpose while triggering memories.

The end goal should not be to create a Pinterest-worthy culinary production. Rather, concentrate on all the senses being used and draw on any memories that may come to the surface.

Perhaps, for example, you’re making an apple pie. You can discuss how smooth the crust feels as you roll it out and the powdery flour that puffs into the air while you sprinkle it over the dough. Point out the sound of the apples being chopped, the delicious cinnamon butter aroma as the pie bakes. And naturally, enjoy a piece of the finished product together, encouraging any stories along the way that the person wishes to share.

At Superior Senior Home Care, our skilled dementia caregivers are readily available to add culinary experiences into an older adult’s care plan. Contact us at 805-737-4357 to learn more about our dementia care services in Lompoc, Santa Maria, Nipomo, and the surrounding areas.

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