Baking with someone with dementia

January 8, 2019

What’s more evocative than the smell or taste of a favourite childhood recipe? Those memories of baking with mum come rushing back. Spending time in the kitchen together is a great way to catch up and talk. It can be an emotive and tactile experience, which is why baking with someone living with dementia can be such a lovely and rewarding thing to do. Family time is about laughing, crying and reminiscing – and through the good times and the bad these precious moments often take place over a cuppa and a piece of cake.

Involve a relative or friend

Why not involve your relative or friend who is living with dementia in your Time for a Cuppa tea party. We’re inviting everyone to get together with their friends and families and hold a tea party to raise the funds that will help us reach our target of providing 300 Admiral Nurses by 2020. Time for a Cuppa is a chance to make your favourite family recipes and to remember and cherish the people that passed those recipes down to you. It’s also an opportunity to create new memories that you’ll treasure just as fondly.

Dave, who has been an Admiral Nurse for over 20 years, has put together this advice about baking with someone living with dementia, and what a rewarding and inclusive experience it can be.

Baking together

Baking is an activity you can enjoy together and whilst some people living with dementia may be able to follow a recipe and bake a cake, baking is a great activity with lots of different steps for people to be involved in depending on their abilities and preferences. Focus on the enjoyment of doing the activity together and not on achieving a ‘perfect’ bake!

You may have a favourite family recipe which you may want to adapt or chose an easy to follow recipe. Always plan ahead, you could re-write the recipe in to simple steps and make sure you have all the equipment you need to hand. Weigh out the ingredients ready and you may wish to have them in clear, labelled jars so they are easy to identify. You could also use a contrasting coloured mixing bowl to the work surface colour so that it’s easy to see. (And always remember to check that glasses are on, if they need to be). Kneading, whisking, sieving and stirring are tasks where you could involve someone, you might even have a recipe where you can mix with your (washed) hands and someone can be seated to do these tasks.

Baking might be an activity someone has always enjoyed, it might have been a job for some and doing the activity gives someone a sense of purpose and value. You may need to consider safety in the kitchen and there are gas alarms and detectors available. You may also wish to consider using an electric hob. You can also set an alarm on your phone as a reminder when baking and keep distractions to a minimum.

Some people may be happy to look on whilst your baking and you can encourage interest by talking about what you’re doing and the smell. This might, in turn, stimulate conversation and memories; ‘Wow, the smell reminds me of…’, Look in old recipe books together and see the kind of food people would have eaten and seen prepared.

The tasting of a freshly baked cake is another sensory activity and one of the great parts of baking you can enjoy together with a cuppa. There’s another conversation starter there; do you prefer a mug or a cup?’

Get involved

So why make Time for a Cuppa this March? Because it’s a chance for you to get together with those you care about most, enjoy baking together, sharing your best recipes, having fun and raising vital funds to support families facing dementia.

For further information on safety equipment and sensory activities see visit Unforgettable and Active Minds.

View our Time for a Cuppa recipes

We’ve collected some of our favourite recipes to help inspire your Time for a Cuppa menu.

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Dementia Helpline

The Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline is for anyone with a question or concern about dementia.

Find out more