One of the things residents at our communities love to tell us is how much they enjoyed baking in their earlier years. Whether it was their famous oatmeal cookies or apple pie, the memories of those special treats seldom fade, even as we age. For individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease, those kinds of memories often resurface when presented with activities that bring back the “baker” in them.
Recently, the residents and staff at Grace Point Place Memory Care in Oak Lawn, Illinois, were fortunate to experience, firsthand, a cake decorating session, courtesy of local cake decorator, Sheldon Flowers. Sheldon, by the way, learned his skills from watching his grandmother bake cakes years ago. The love of cake decorating was passed down through generations to him and, today, he enjoys making amazing cakes for various local events.
In this session, Sheldon demonstrated how to decorate a two-tiered vanilla wedding cake with a Fall motif. The residents and staff watched with delight as he explain how to adorn the cake with icing “leaves” in Fall colors. Then, each resident then was able to work on their own cupcake creations, amidst bowls of whipped cream as well as frosting in multiple colors and sprinkles.
The event was covered by the local Southtown edition of the Chicago Tribune. Shannon Dahlman, community relations director for Grace Point, was asked by the reporter why the residents seem to enjoy these kinds of activities so much. “A number of our residents enjoyed baking earlier in their lives,” she explained. “And, for those who haven’t baked before, it’s a wonderful way to experience a new kind of creativity.”
If you are caring for a loved one who once enjoyed baking, consider rekindling their skills by bringing together the ingredients and creating a safe, clean area for them to experience the joy of baking again. These kinds of activities often help bring a renewed sense of purpose into the lives of those challenged by dementia. The experience of doing something that once was a source of pride can bring joy and new meaning to their day (and yours).