Baking can be a good way for people to get involved in the kitchen, even as dementia progresses.
Whether for seasoned bakers or those trying it out for the first time, making bread, cakes, biscuits or pies is a great way to get involved in the kitchen. It can also help maintain skills as dementia progresses.
Choose a recipe that can be followed one step at a time, such as making shortbread or simple cakes. There are many different types of bread, from rye to roti, and some are much simpler to make than others. For those who like fillings or toppings, try making patties or pizza.
There are lots of recipes online – including videos on YouTube – and recipe books in local libraries. Specific diets, like vegan or gluten-free, are also catered to.
Break down tasks and recipes into simple steps. If a person can’t follow the recipe from start to finish, they might like to help with particular stages. For example, someone else could read out the recipe, stir ingredients or roll and cut pastry.
Some people find kneading dough therapeutic and enjoyable. They may also enjoy decorating a cake or biscuits.
If someone finds physical activity difficult, they may be happy to watch and chat, or to help taste the mixture or ingredients.
Cooking smells can be calming, especially if they’re associated with happy memories. It may be an opportunity to talk about these memories, and this can help to build up an appetite.
Serving and eating can be a nice event too – add a sense of ceremony with music, candles or decorations.
Keeping up with cooking shows on TV or streaming services, such as The Great British Bake Off, is another way to stay involved. Watching and discussing with friends or family is part of the fun!
What you said
Yankeeabroad, on Talking Point, says,
‘My dad used to be the master baker – cakes, brownies, and cookies from scratch and waffles.
‘We’ve moved to using mixes and prepared frosting (thank you Betty Crocker!) now, as it’s much easier for him to manage to mix. And he always does it with me (daughter) or his caregiver.
‘We can just supervise or help a lot if he is having a confused day. We sometimes make extra waffle batter to leave in the refrigerator so he can have “fresh waffles” on another day.
‘Overall, this seems to keep his brain actively engaged and he’s more alert.’
canary was reminded of a late fellow Talking Point member, Barry Pankhurst. ‘Barry’s baking thread’, which compiles many tips that he shared over the years, can still be read on the online community.
Barry also published two books in 2014 – Master Baker Barry’s Bakery Recipes Whilst Living with Alzheimer’s (ISBN 9781495913013) and Master Baker Barry’s Recipes for Success Whilst Living with Alzheimer’s (ISBN 9781497344181).