As a cookbook author and genuine foodie, I take a lot of joy from preparing wholesome meals. I find cooking relaxing and get a certain satisfaction taking care of those I love through the healing power of food.
As I stood chopping vegetables for a brown-rice stir fry the other day, I thought about something. If my ability to be totally immersed in the kitchen was suddenly diminished, it would be very distressing for me. This is something that happens often for seniors. As we age, certain tasks become harder and less feasible. Perhaps following a recipe is increasingly difficult, or chronic aches and pains could make food preparation physically daunting. You may not have the stamina to stand in the kitchen for long hours preparing a big dinner for guests, as you once did.
Doing what we love is important for our ability to thrive and to maintain that sense of normalcy as we age. Here are some simple ways a senior can continue to feel independent in the kitchen in his/her own home.
If the actual act of cooking a meal has physically become too difficult, you can still be involved in what your family eats. Sit down with your loved ones, or someone who provides senior care in home, and plot out the week’s meals. This will allow you to get creative, and stay on budget if you’re on a fixed income.
If standing at the counter chopping vegetables is not easy, this is a great way to still be involved in the meal-planning process. Part of the fun of cooking is going shopping for the ingredients. And the benefit is it also gets you out of the house for a short while. Shopping provides a great social opportunity to talk to others. In the warmer months, shopping at farmer’s markets will not only get you out of the house, but outside in the fresh air while you look for quality food for your family.
Cook with Assistance
Perhaps you feel confident to prepare most of the meal, but need some help lifting those heavy cast-iron skillets, and chopping fruits and vegetables. Certain foods, such as squash and watermelon, may require more hand power to slice a knife through. Ask a loved one, or your caregiver, to be on-call for these duties. He/she can even get everything set up for you beforehand. Think of these individuals as your happy and willing helpers.
You may be feeling less confident in the kitchen, but you still have a very important role to play in how your family eats. Do everything you can to keep feeling independent as long as you can!