Support Memory Care With Cooking

When a loved one is struggling with dementia, it's important to engage them in activities that provide memory care. Because of the inherent dangers involved with cooking, this activity of daily living is often one of the first changes that fall by the wayside. Depending on the stage of dementia, restricting unsupervised cooking is probably a good idea for persons with dementia. However, supervised cooking and kitchen activities should be a part of their life, especially if the person previously enjoyed cooking and baking. Here are three ways cooking can help support the changing brain.

1. Cooking Provides a Sensory Experience

Cooking engages four of the five senses. For example, if you help your loved one bake a loaf of bread, they need to use their sight to look for the yeast bubbles in the water and check it is golden brown before taking it out of the oven.

They can smell the yeasty flour and the welcoming scent of fresh bread baking. They can feel the dough in their hands as they knead and shape it. They can taste it when they cut the first slice and slather it with butter.

2. Cooking Uses Math and Reading Skills

When cooking with a loved one who has dementia, be sure to follow a recipe. This will require them to read, comprehend, and follow the instructions. They will also have to doing the steps in order. When things are broken down in steps like a recipe is, it makes the activity more manageable.

Following a recipe also often requires doing simple math. For example, a recipe may call for 12 ounces of liquid. As their kitchen helper, you can help with their memory care by asking them to convert the measurement to cups.

Another great way to stimulate the part of their brain that performs mathematical operations is by doubling a recipe or cutting it in half. By having to multiply or divide measurements, they have to perform more complex calculations, which will help keep their brain sharp.

3. Cooking Brings People Together

Cooking may be a solo activity, but it can also be an activity people do together. For example, when the holidays near, consider making cutout cookies. This is often a group activity, where the entire family gathers to use cookie cutters to make the different shapes and then sit around together decorating them. Decorating cookies also allows your loved one to express their creativity.

Contact an organization like Wellspring Meadows Assisted Living for more information about memory care.