When a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s first is made, its easy for a person to start counting all the things they will no longer be able to do. It’s a natural human tendency.
Its also common practice for caregivers to begin taking over even the simplest of tasks, because its easier to do things quickly yourself rather than wait patiently for the most common things we do every day.
But instead of focusing in on the things you can’t do, sometimes its even more important focusing in on the things you can do.
While Alzheimer’s may begin taking away the ability to remember the little things – names of common objects, or things that happened yesterday for instance – it can also make you appreciate the things in life that have given you joy throughout the years.
One example is cooking.
Cooking is a process we use every single day of our lives. We may remember baking cookies with our grandmothers. Or creating our very first dinner for the family.
Cooking can be a source of joy if you re-introduce it into your loved one’s life. While they might not be able to do things the way they used to, the wonderful thing about cooking is there is no one method that’s better than another.
Tip #1 Buy easy to use kitchen tools
Every single home has the kitchen gadget drawer filled with utensils collected over decades of use. Yet many of those tools are difficult to use and can even cause injury if used inappropriately. Clean out that drawer and visit your local kitchen store for a new set of tools. You’ll find easy to grip spoons and spatulas, and items that make every day chores a snap. Talk with the sales team at the store – there are many updated gadgets that can make even the most difficult of processes doable by anyone at any skill level.
Tip #2 Rethink your menu
Cooking is often a source of joy. But if you can’t chop, grate and grill the way you used to, those old recipes can be more of a source of frustration than joy. Whatever your desired meal, there are many ways to create them using new methods. If a common problem is leaving a pot boiling on the stove and forgetting its on, turn to other cooking methods, such as a crock pot.
Tip #3 Work together
Instead of doing all the preparation yourself as the caregiver, introduce new concepts to your loved one. If you bake cookies, have them measure out the flour into cups, and sprinkle on the decorations. If you make dough for bread or a pizza crust, have them get their hands dirty and squish the flour and the water together. Even stirring together a few ingredients in a large bowl can be therapeutic in watching a final presentation come together. Never underestimate even the smallest of activities.
Tip #4 Find a cooking class
Because cooking is one of the most loved activities around, you can find many cooking classes in a variety of locations. Look to your local rec center, a neighborhood kitchen school, or even talk with a senior center for recommendations. In some cases you may be able to take classes together, or find one that can improve your skills and help you determine more of what your loved one is capable of.
Tip #5 Recall past experiences
If your loved associates a specific food with a past experience, relive those moments as you cook up a favorite meal today. “Remember the time we made this …” can start the memories flooding in. Because food is such an integral part of our lives, it can be a great way of starting conversations, and reducing the daily stressors in your lives.