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Helpful Tips for Dementia Care in the Kitchen

The adult child of a senior practices dementia care in the kitchen.
Learn how to manage dementia care in the kitchen.

You can feel the warmth in any kitchen. It’s the place hungry kids rush to as soon as they get home from school. It’s the spot family members gather to prepare holiday meals together. It’s also a place to warm up a cup of milk and find some quiet, reflective solace when sleep is elusive.

For someone living with dementia, the kitchen can often be the site of heartfelt memories like these. Cooking engages multiple senses, which makes it an ideal activity to unlock the doors of reminiscence. The sizzle of ingredients in a pan, the rhythmic chopping of veggies, and the tantalizing smell of a well-seasoned dish can stir happy memories, sparking joy and connection.

If you’d like to add dementia care in the kitchen to your care tactics, these tips will help.

  • Preplan. A structured approach, with ingredients lined up and ready and step-by-step instructions provided, will help ensure a more seamless and enjoyable experience.
  • Don’t overcomplicate it. Use uncomplicated recipes with familiar ingredients to promote a feeling of accomplishment. If the person has a box of recipes or favorite cookbook, this is an excellent place to start. Pull out several recipe options that would be simple to prepare, and then discuss which ones may spark interest. Or, you can do some searching online for simple recipes based on the person’s particular tastes.
  • Stay social. The idea is to make the activity an occasion of togetherness, transforming the kitchen into a warm space where laughter is shared, stories are exchanged, and bonds are strengthened.
  • Make it personal. Consider the preferences and capabilities of the individual. Activities such as kneading dough, rolling out cookies, or tossing a salad can be empowering, confidence-boosting, and reinforce a sense of purpose while triggering memories.

You don’t have to focus on creating a Pinterest-worthy culinary production. Rather, concentrate on each of the senses being used and draw on any memories that may come to the surface.

Perhaps, for instance, 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 wishes to share.

At Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, our knowledgeable dementia caregivers are on hand to include culinary experiences into an older adult’s care plan. Email or call us at (866) 229-2505 for more information on dementia care in the kitchen and our dementia care services in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, St. Joseph, and the surrounding areas.

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