Being a family caregiver for an elderly adult who is living with cognitive functioning decline can be challenging. You have noticed the changes your parent has experienced, but you also want to encourage them to maintain their best life as they age. Fortunately, there are ways to do this. Simple everyday activities such as baking can make a huge difference in their life, boosting their mental and emotional health, encouraging stronger cognition, and promoting valuable time together. Activities such as baking are fun and enjoyable to do together, but can also stimulate your parent’s mind, strengthen cognitive functioning, and improve memory. Even if your parent is already dealing with cognitive functioning decline, spending time doing these activities is a great way to spend time with your senior and enjoy stronger feelings of independence as they age in place. It is important, however, to find ways to encourage your senior to participate that are safe, accessible, and give a sense of accomplishment.
Use these tips to encourage a senior with cognitive functioning decline to participate in baking:
- Choose a recipe together if you want to try something new. This encourages your parent to talk about their preferences and feel as though they are important and acknowledged.
- Try baking an old favorite recipe that will stimulate their memory and encourage conversations.
- Have your senior be responsible for gathering the ingredients. Read the list out to them one by one so they can locate the ingredients throughout the kitchen and bring them to the preparation area. Give them plenty of time to find each thing on their own and offer guidance to encourage them to find these things themselves rather than immediately finding it for them.
- Likewise, have your parent gather the cooking utensils, bowls, etc.
- Give your parent specific instructions for how they can help you. Especially if they have already progressed in their cognitive functioning decline, following several steps at once can be overwhelming and confusing. Instead, give them one or two things to do, let them handle it, and then move on when they are completely finished.
- Use modified tools to make preparation easier and safer. For example, rather than having your parent chop up ingredients using a sharp knife, give them an handheld chopper with a handle and cover.
- Let your parent handle specific tasks such as measuring out ingredients. The actual act of measuring and pouring the ingredients in the bowl is valuable to stimulating the mind and triggering memory.
Companionship is one of the most beneficial aspects of elderly care. For many aging adults, loneliness, isolation, and lack of social and mental stimulation can be devastating. These contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, diminish motivation, and can hasten cognitive functioning decline and memory loss. An elderly home care services provider can give your parent valuable, meaningful companionship and encourage your parent to keep their mind sharp, strong, and healthy as they age. This can include sharing conversation, learning new things together, participating in activities, crafts, and games, going on outings, encouraging your parent to volunteer and find activities they enjoy, and more.