The Benefits of Cooking When Living with Dementia

St Paul Senior Blog - The Benefits of Cooking When Living with Dementia

St Paul Senior Blog

Cooking and baking have been shown to be great activities for people living with dementia; it allows them to explore the senses, provides a creative outlet, helps to spark memories, and encourages conversation. Explore the benefits of cooking for those living with dementia:

1. It Engages the Senses

Cooking provides an excellent activity for sensory stimulation exploring touch, sight, smell, sound, and taste. For someone living with dementia, sensory activities provide platforms for reminiscence, socialization, and help to improve mood.
Engaging the sense of smell as part of a cooking activity can be a great way to reduce agitation and aid with relaxation, as familiar scents incite feelings of comfort and evoke memories.
Try asking your loved one what their favorite meal was as a child and re-create it together. Involving your loved one in cooking processes, such as kneading dough and using cooking utensils, are great ways to engage their sense of touch. Doing these can help to improve hand-eye coordination while providing light physical exercise.

2. Creates Reminiscence

Cooking is a familiar activity for many and taking part in activities in the kitchen can help trigger positive memories for someone living with dementia. Meals are often cooked within a family home shared with loved ones, therefore creating a familiar meal, which has a familiar smell or taste, can help stir those memories.
If your loved one used to bake, why not try making biscuits together. Select a simple recipe that involves kneading. Baking biscuits is known to provide a homely familiar smell which may also help spark memories and conversations of when your loved one used to bake.
The smell of food cooking has proved to be a powerful reminiscence tool. Familiar scents can help to take someone back in time, triggering memories and eliciting feelings of positivity.

3. Provides Socialization

Living with dementia can sometimes cause someone to withdraw and become less forthcoming as they may be experiencing memory or communication difficulties. Taking part in familiar activities such as cooking or baking is a great way to increase social interaction by working together.
Socializing through activities can have a profound impact on someone’s mood. Simply taking part in something together or having conversations surrounding the activity can significantly reduce loneliness and help improve your loved one’s mood.

4. Increases Appetite

Many people living with dementia can experience a loss of appetite and therefore lose a connection with food. By introducing cooking as an activity, the enjoyment and social interaction can provide a useful tool for increasing appetite. Try to create food that looks or smells appealing; the aroma can help stimulate appetite.

5. Provides Relaxation

Cooking has many stress-relieving benefits and can help those living with dementia relax. Repetition in baking and activities such as kneading dough have been shown to be an effective way to reduce agitation and create a calming environment.

With a multitude of benefits, cooking and baking are brilliant ways to help those living with dementia reminisce and create connections with both people and food. Try introducing small cooking activities in a safe way with your loved one to explore the benefits.

About the Author: Active Minds mindfully creates dementia activities which are designed to improve the quality of life of someone living with dementia. Active Minds has a multitude of brilliant activities for individuals or groups within a home care setting.