In 2020 the number of people in Canada living with Dementia was 597,000 and 83% individuals are cared for by family members or friends.
One of the many things we are quickly learning about caring for those with dementia is that for those effected and diagnosed there can be a lot of stigmas which results in social isolation and depression. One of the things that can help combat these feelings are working with carers and individuals to create opportunities for connection, enjoyment, and socialization – these opportunities could be big such as joining clubs and programs – or small, like baking bread.
Baking is one of the many activities out there that has lots of opportunities to offer connection as a joint activity for carers, friends and family to participate with a loved one with Dementia (or without!)
By engaging and stimulating senses baking bread can provide a calming and engaging way to create new experiences or call to mind memories. The physical aspects of baking bread can provide opportunities to move though standing, mixing and kneading the dough – these experiences can easily be altered to accommodate just about any level of ability through the use of stand mixers and chairs if need be. This physical aspect also lends itself naturally towards stimulation of appetite not just through the physical exertions but also though anticipation of completion of the bread as well as the smell that accumulates during making and baking. Additionally, for many, the repetitive motions through kneading, shaping, and breaks in activity to allow the bread to rise, has a naturally relaxing rhythm in addition to the fact that for some baking bread is an enjoyable activity any day.
Following a recipe, being encouraged to interact with and measure out ingredients and time, can exercise cognitive functions and memory. Along with a support system that naturally is a part of the activity such as gentle reminders through the use of timers and being able to re-read the recipe and/or ask a support person. Completing a recipe and being able to enjoy the fruits of your labour also create a sense of accomplishment and can help to boost self esteem and a sense of independence. For many, bread is a common household item, and this creates an opportunity to engage with smells, textures and taste that are familiar.
Humans by nature are social creatures and it is much easier to socialize during an activity that is shared. Baking makes space for memories – creating new and reminiscing with old – and provides many opportunities to socialize together during the process. It invites an individual with dementia to be in a supportive and current moment with whatever flexibility is needed without shame or disruption. Having a familiar and safe person and activity in a safe setting can be a comforting experience.
We hope this inspired you to make some bread with someone you care about – or perhaps inspired another activity to share with them. Use the Contact Us button to tell us more about it if you’d like.