Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to Cook Safely With Dementia

Making meals can evoke wonderful memories, particularly caregivers and their loved one with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Not only does the act of cooking help feed our appetites, but there’s evidence it’s an excellent activity for everyone’s wellbeing.

Consider this passage from an article on on the positive impact cooking has our elders.

Director of Dementia Services at Barchester Sheena Wyllie noted that creating meals can be more than just about food preparation - it is also about recall. Reminiscing and having the chance to talk about what they associate with cooking can be beneficial for those with dementia, Ms. Wyllie pointed out.

The process may help bring back memories of grandparents, their life as a child, their experiences as a parent when they cooked for their children, or what they used to eat, Sheena explained. "It may actually not be associated with food at all, it may just be associated with an emotional memory of eating Sunday lunch or something similar.

"For people with dementia, the trigger is actually familiarity, so if you are talking about cooking you need to be in a kitchen that looks, sounds, smells and tastes like a kitchen," Sheena noted. This can include foodstuff, pots and pans as well as familiar items and objects that the residents can "really feel, taste and touch", she added.

Here are some online resources for cooking safely.

Cooking Safety for People with Dementia

Hamburger Helper Blues

Safety in the Home (includes section on cooking)

Photos are from a cooking class conducted at our Hillcrest Center on Fourth Avenue in San Diego.