October 11, 2022 by Dean Bellefeuille

happy ladies fixing food

If there’s one thing that connects us all, it’s food! Think about how many cherished memories have been made through the years that incorporated food at the center of them all: wedding celebrations, holiday meals, birthday parties. Even ordinary days include routines that become ingrained in us around food, from that first aromatic cup of coffee in the morning to a shared bowl of buttery popcorn with family while watching a movie.

It really is no wonder that food isn’t only a necessity for our physical health, but often a highly effective way to connect with a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Here are a few activities you can try to help spark memories while engaging all the senses through food.

  • Preparing. Decide on an easy recipe to prepare, such as sandwiches or fruit salad. Assemble the ingredients and incorporate them into your conversation. While washing and cutting up fruit, for example, ask the senior what kinds of fruits they enjoyed as a child.
  • Storytelling. Take out a vintage cookbook and look through the recipes together to determine if any spark memories. The senior may recall food rationing during wartime, or the time they tried a brand new recipe at the beginning of their marriage that was a complete disaster. If a specific recipe is of interest, make it together!
  • Decorating. Frost cupcakes while reminiscing about the goodies Mom would prepare for school birthday parties. Roll out cookie dough and use cookie cutters and sprinkles to make them specific to an upcoming holiday while you discuss holidays past.

Consider how to incorporate each of the senses into mealtimes. There’s so much more to food than taste! Point out the delicious scent associated with meat you are roasting for dinner, the sizzling sound of sausage frying, or the cool smoothness of bread dough being kneaded. Try to make each plate served appetizing to the eyes as well as the palate. And whenever possible, foster discussions that link the person to memories from the past.

Quite often, a person with dementia will encounter a diminished appetite and lose interest in food. Activities such as these can be a great way to revive the joy we experience together through shared meals and treats.

Our dementia caregivers have many more ideas to make life the very best it can be for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Get in contact with At Home Independent Living any time at (315) 579-HOME (4663) to request dementia care resources and to get additional information on our customized in-home care services.