Cooking and baking are a well-loved tradition passed down from generation to generation. Cooking can often be a therapeutic experience for those who love it.
As we age, we tend to eat less than we used to. But it’s increasingly important to eat fresh, homemade meals for their nutritional value. Seniors often cook less because they don’t want to end up with larger portions that won’t be eaten. Further, those seniors dealing with dementia may stop cooking altogether.
It may be more convenient to have meals prepared, but there are many benefits to keeping the art of cooking alive and well.
Stimulating the Senses
Especially with those seniors dealing with dementia, cooking can help stimulate senses that aren’t being used as much as they once were. If cooking was a favorite pastime, it can stir up memories of fond traditions, family time, and more.
Cooking a meal brings alive the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. It’s also a great alternative to being sedentary in a chair. Cooking is tactical and requires hand-eye coordination. Doing it often can keep you sharp and even elevate your mood or help you relax.
Just as with the nostalgia that comes from hearing a favorite song from your youth, cooking can bring up fond memories, too. Smell and taste have the power to bring up vivid memories. Being reminded of these familiar smells and flavors while cooking can be especially therapeutic for seniors with dementia.
If you are caring for a senior loved one, ask them about favorite meals that they enjoyed throughout their life. Using that information, you can plan a time to cook together to bring back fond memories, elevate their mood, and help them reminisce. Reminiscing is powerful for all seniors, but especially helpful for those seniors dealing with dementia.
Schedule cooking or baking time into a regular routine to get the most benefit for you or your senior loved one. Bake a favorite family bread recipe together or a batch of the cookie recipe that has been passed down for generations.
This is a great way to get children involved with grandparents and ensure that family traditions stay alive and well.
Another great thing about cooking is the social aspect. Historically, meals are a social activity. Many of our fondest memories come from dinner-table discussions with our friends and loved ones.
Seniors living in assisted living communities enjoy the benefit of mealtime with friends, and when things begin to open back up as the COVID-19 injections become more readily available, we are hopeful that the joyful chatter of family and loved ones will return, as well.
Improving Eating Habits
Perhaps one of the best side effects of making cooking a regular practice for seniors is the improved nutrition. Immersing themselves into the cooking process and fully enjoying the smells and flavors may enhance appetite and result in better eating habits for seniors. Nutrition is so important for overall quality of life.
At Auburn Hill Senior Living, we have taken great care to ensure our resident family has ample opportunity to immerse themselves in cooking experiences. For example, our “Cooking with Ken” experiences offer residents the chance to learn new cooking skills from our head chef, Ken Lowrie.
Want to experience the Auburn Hill difference for yourself? Schedule a visit today. We would love to show you around and introduce you to our passionate team.