The Benefits of Cooking and Baking for the Older Generation
Many of us have fond memories about cooking or being in the kitchen. Despite such happy memories, many older adults do not cook or bake as often as they used to, often due to reduced appetite or physical difficulties. This is unfortunate as cooking and baking provide many benefits for the older generation from improving appetite and expressing creativity to increasing socialisation.
Here are some of the benefits of cooking and baking for older people and how such hobbies can help keep you active and engaged in your senior years.
The benefits of cooking and baking
Cooking is a great hobby for anyone looking to express their creativity while making something useful. Not only is being creative a fun form of self-expression, but some studies have even linked creativity to increased overall well-being.
Even if you strictly follow a recipe while in the kitchen, there are many other opportunities to get creative. Whether it’s decorating a fancy cake or simply plating a home-cooked meal, cooking and baking allow older adults to express their creative side in a fun and constructive way.
Time for socialising
Cooking and sharing meals is the perfect opportunity for some socialisation. As we get older, many people start to feel lonely or isolated. Cooking or sharing a meal together helps form positive memories and get you socialising.
Even if you are preparing a meal alone, cooking and baking provide lots of opportunities for socialising in your community. From visiting your local butcher to enjoying a friendly chat with the cashier at your local grocery store, cooking and baking provide opportunities for older adults to engage in conversation and socialise with others.
As we get older, taking care of our physical health becomes more important to living a long and healthy life. Beyond the psychological benefits of cooking and baking, preparing your own food allows you to control the ingredients and eat healthier.
By preparing your own meals, you can choose what ingredients go into the food you eat and how they are prepared. Preparing your own meals also makes it easier to control your nutrition or follow specific dietary recommendations.
Although take-out, restaurants, and pre-packaged foods are convenient, they can be expensive. One of the many benefits of cooking and baking is that it helps you keep costs low by shopping for your own ingredients.
Focusing on whole fresh foods is not only a good money-saving strategy, it also allows you to focus on creating delicious and nutritionally balanced food.
As we age, it’s normal to experience a decrease in appetite. Despite this, it’s important to address a lack of appetite as it can lead to poor nutrition and even mental and physical problems.
Cooking and preparing their own meals can help increase the appetites of older adults. When someone cooks for themself, they’ll likely feel more excited about trying the food they create. The delicious aromas that come from cooking a home-cooked meal can also help stimulate the senses and lead to increased appetite.
Trigger happy memories
Many older adults have fond memories of family dinners and other social gatherings involving food. The scents and sights of cooking or baking can help trigger happy memories of time spent with loved ones. This can be especially helpful for individuals living with dementia that once loved cooking or baking.
The best way to help your older family members relive these happy memories is to find an old family recipe or choose a favourite dish and recreate it together. If they are not keen on cooking or baking themselves, you can also try recreating it for them and then sharing a meal together.
Maintain a sense of independence
As we get older, many people struggle with their inability to perform tasks or enjoy hobbies as they once did. This is especially true for individuals living with dementia and it can have a negative impact on their self-confidence and self of sense.
Cooking or baking for themselves, or simply being involved in the process, can help older adults feel dignified and independent.
Supporting older adults with cooking and baking
If there is an older adult in your life that you feel could benefit from cooking or baking, here are some helpful tips you can use to support them. Helping a loved one find joy in cooking and baking is a rewarding act that will benefit you both.
Choose a recipe that is easy and suited to your loved one’s abilities. The internet is full of easy recipes, although you may enjoy flipping through a recipe book together. You can also ask your loved one if there are any family recipes they would like to make together.
Involve your loved one as much as possible in the process. Repetitive activities like kneading or stirring are soothing and easy for cooks of all skill levels. Remember that it can be difficult to admit when an activity is too difficult, so be gentle and patient.
Make sure that all the kitchen equipment that you or your loved ones will use is in good working order. This includes testing any carbon monoxide or fire detectors. Be sure to go through the steps of how to use any safety equipment before you get started.
Accidents of all kinds can happen in the kitchen and your recipe may not turn out as you planned. To avoid frustration or disappointment, you should always have a backup plan that you can use to distract your loved one in case a problem occurs.
Always remain flexible. Remember that the point here is to enjoy your quality time together, not to achieve perfection.
Easy recipes to try
If you would like to enjoy some of the benefits of cooking and baking yourself, here are a few easy recipe ideas for you to try.
AgeUK has a number of easy recipes ranging from hearty stews to tasty treats.
The NHS has a guide with over 50 easy and family-friendly recipes to try.
BBC GoodFood has many recipes for classic comfort foods, although you may want to check the difficulty level of each recipe before trying them.
How live-in care can help
If you or your loved ones can not enjoy activities like cooking or baking like you once did, live-in care can help. With dedicated live-in care, a professional carer will move into your home and provide you with the help and support you need to live an independent and active lifestyle.
When they realise that they can no longer perform household chores or enjoy their hobbies as they once did, many people fear they will have to leave their much-loved home and move into a care or residential home. Live-in care provides a viable and affordable alternative that can help you receive the care you need while allowing you to stay in the comfort and familiarity of home.
A live-in carer can provide help with a number of tasks ranging from discreet and sensitive personal care – like dressing or bathing – to facilitating trips in the community. On top of practical support with daily tasks, a live-in carer can provide friendship and companionship.
At The Good Care Group, we’ve been helping people with care needs continue to thrive at home for over 10 years. We are the only live-in care provider in England to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ rating by the CQC.
Our professional carers are trained beyond industry standards and managed by an expert and local care manager. We take a holistic approach to care that considers not only the care needs of our clients but their lifestyle choices and preferences too.
Do not hesitate to contact us to find out how live-in care can enhance the quality of your life.
Talk to us about your care needs
To talk about your care needs, contact one of our friendly advisors. Calls from landlines are free.