Cooking with your loved one is more than just a social activity; it’s also an excellent mental exercise for both of you. Whether they have shown some forgetfulness lately or have been diagnosed with a memory condition, meal planning, building a cooking timeline, making grocery lists and the actual preparation of the meal will keep their neurons firing, tapping into memory recall and decision-making functions.
As Marwan Sabbagh, M.D., Director of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, explains it, “a nourishing, home-cooked meal, shared with friends or family, is an everyday activity that exercises the brain. It already provides the nutrition our bodies crave, and it encourages social interaction, all of which are critical to preserving cognitive fitness.”
When it comes to meal planning, Chef Romero shares this tip: you and your loved one can research new recipes online to try based on a meal they had during a special time in their life or using an ingredient they’ve always been curious about. Either point of inspiration is bound to lead to both of you acquiring new knowledge, which is always good for the brain.
Don’t forget to take their changing nutritional needs into account, too. For example, Chef Romero has spent years learning about how age and illness impact our resident’s needs for crucial vitamins and minerals as well as adequate protein, carbohydrates and the right balance of fat and sodium. He also spends time learning each resident’s preferences—and dislikes—to make sure they find each meal tempting and tasty.
If your loved one’s taste buds seem a bit off lately because of changes to their health or medications, you may want to search a bit further afield for recipes that will appeal to them at the moment.
You might have to change up the preparation or presentation a bit to accommodate any eating difficulties your loved one is experiencing as well. Chef Romero advises that chopping foods into smaller pieces and cooking them longer can help as can choosing softer versions of food.
Whatever you decide to make, the act of cooking together will result in so much more than simply a good meal; it will also strengthen your bond and create a sense of joy in the moment. Whether they will remember it for long or not, you’ll have a treasured new memory of your loved one.
If you’d like to know more about exceptional senior living with memory care, Aravilla Clearwater Memory Care is here to help. Contact us today.