Memory support activities

The Benefits of Food Preparation and Cooking Activities in Aged Care

The Benefits of Food Preparation and Cooking Activities in Aged Care

Cooking activities can be enjoyable and engaging activities for people living with dementia, providing physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits. From cutting and chopping vegetables to baking cookies – these food preparation and cooking activities may help improve coordination, concentration and mood.

Stimulate Motor Skills.

Cooking activities that involve peeling, cutting and chopping food, stirring a mixture or kneading dough are great for stimulating motor skills in people living with dementia. Many people find that attempting these tasks helps to maintain their dexterity as well as provides an opportunity for them to practise math skills such as counting, measuring and sequencing. In addition to this, visual processing may be stimulated by arranging food items or ingredients in a particular way on the plate or baking tray before they are cooked.

Part of the joy of food preparation and cooking is being able to share the finished product with others. Research shows that when people living with dementia prepare meals for other people, they may experience a boost in self-esteem and feelings of satisfaction. Eating together also encourages conversation and relationships, which can hold huge benefits for people living with dementia and their carers. In addition to this, taking part in a shared activity such as cooking provides an opportunity to build social connections and develop interdependence within a group.

Enhance Social Interaction & Self-Esteem.

Cooking activities can be a great way to increase social interaction and foster connections between people living with dementia and other individuals. Moreover, the end product of preparing meals offers a great source of pride in accomplishment which can help to boost a person’s self-esteem. For those living with dementia, it is often simple tasks such as following recipes or counting out ingredients that can give someone back their independence and raise their self-confidence.

Reduce Anxiety and Stress Levels.

Cooking activities provide stimulation to the senses, like sight, smell and taste. This can help to reduce anxiety and stress levels as the familiar aromas of the recipe being cooked bring back memories from the past. Taking part in a cooking activity can also be a great distraction from everyday worries, creating a peaceful environment with fun, engaging tasks. Studies have found that participants often feel calmer and more at ease after taking part in cooking activities.

Food preparation activities also provide people with dementia the opportunity to develop their skills. Tasks such as slicing, dicing, and stirring give individuals something productive to focus on and improve their motor functions.  Cooking activities are just one of the many ways to bring pleasure to someone living with dementia; engaging them in tasks that they’re familiar with helps foster a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Increase Appetite and Nutrition Intake.

Cooking activities can be seen as therapeutic for those living with dementia, providing multiple benefits including boosting levels of nutrition intake. During the activity, participants can visually see, feel and smell the ingredients being used which encourages them to take part in cooking and ultimately increases mealtime enjoyment.

Preparing meals can also increase appetite. Being involved in the whole process of preparing a meal,  to plating and serving, can encourage appetite as well as enable them to feel they have contributed to a meal. This helps develop meaningful relationships with food which can result in increased nutritional intake over time; an important aspect for people living with dementia.