For older adults with dementia in residential settings, the opportunity to cook or enjoy homemade foods is often limited. Cooking programs have the potential to calm, increase appetite, and entice people to a social gathering, and relieve some of the stress related to living in group settings. These programs provide familiar sensory stimulation with smells, textures, and taste. They also provide cognitive and physical stimulation. Cooking provides the opportunity to take pride in oneself and perform past roles. Providing individuals with cooking opportunities increases socialization as preparing and eating foods is the most social of all activities of daily living (ADLs) and is the glue of our social system.
- Engages the senses
- Creates reminiscence
- Provides Socialization
- Increases appetite
- Provides relaxation
1. It Engages the Senses
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.
2. Creates Reminiscence
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.
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.
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.