Meet Me in the Kitchen: The Therapeutic Benefits of Cooking for Seniors with Dementia
“Pull up a
chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
- Ruth Reichl
If an aging loved one is faced with a memory disorder, such as Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia, they may start to withdraw. Becoming more disengaged, the affected senior may avoid social interaction or not enjoy their normal activities or passions in the same way that they used to.
How can we help to reverse this trend? We’ve found that planning fun and engaging activities can make a world of difference.
As a part of our Memory Care Program at Orchard Park Senior Living, we plan activities that are designed to activate the senses, trigger happy memories, and encourage social bonding. From arts and crafts, to gardening, to singing songs, we plan a wide variety of different activities for our senior residents to enjoy and bond over. One of our favorite sensory-activating activities? Cooking!
Cooking for Seniors with Dementia
How does cooking help engage seniors with Alzheimer’s? Let’s highlight a few ways that cooking-related activities can help to soothe the anxiety or frustration that often accompanies dementia-related illnesses:
Cooking activates the senses.
Touch, smell, sight, and taste: cooking activates it all! When baking a cake, for example, seniors can be brought into the moment as they put their hands through the cool, soft dough. As the cake is baking in the oven, seniors can enjoy the delicious, sweet aromas. Pull the cake out of the oven and seniors can decorate it however they want, activating their visual senses and sparking their creativity! And, of course, let’s not forget the best part: tasting the delicious cake they’ve just created!
Triggers happy memories.
Not only does cooking make our taste buds happy, but it also triggers positive memories of sharing and preparing meals with loved ones. The very smell of something delicious baking in the oven can trigger happy memories of cooking with family, a warm sense of home.
Encourages social bonding and self-expression.
When cooking, seniors can have fun working together with staff and peers, benefiting from the help and support of others. Since there is nothing quite like the love of food, it’s easy to bond with others over the deliciousness of a meal or dessert. The act of creating something delicious and beautiful provides seniors with a fun and social outlet for self-expression.
Cooking with Orchard Park Seniors!
How do we incorporate cooking into our Memory Care Program at Orchard Park?
Every Thursday afternoon, our memory care
residents join Martin in the kitchen for a special cooking demonstration and
activity. We generally pick recipes that are easy to follow, making sure our
residents feel accomplished and empowered. Baking a delicious dessert is always
a hit! Our residents just love getting their hands in any kind of dough—and of
course tasting the final product at the end!
Take a look at our most recent creations! The ice cream was a perfect complement to this perfect apple crisp.
Learn more about our senior activities program, and get ideas for different ways that you can engage your aging loved ones through sensory-activating activities, such as cooking! If you’d like to visit Orchard Park or experience one of our senior living activities firsthand, feel free to connect with us; we’d love to meet you!
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