An Innovative Cooking Method Is Making Mealtime a Lot More Enjoyable for People With Alzheimer’s

Diners at the Seneca in Rockville.

In a lifestyle as food items-obsessed as ours, the incapacity to delight in a delectable meal can be a single of the cruelest indignities of aging. Which is why, about a 10 years ago, a pair of cooks in Atlanta named Sarah Gorham and Stone Morris devised a cooking system specially for aged people navigating neuromuscular, actual physical, and cognitive difficulties, these kinds of as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, which can make it rough both to swallow and to sit even now by way of mealtime.

They’d been questioned by a senior-residing facility there to arrive up with meals that could restore some independence to memory-treatment citizens. “Like any other innovation, it is demo-and-error,” states Gorham. “We experienced a quite ahead-considering organization that was striving to do the proper detail for their residents.”

Foods, Designed More than: Recreations of preferred meals by the culinary staff at Watermark’s DC-space assisted residing facilities. From remaining to right: Chef salad, Beef tenderloin & sweet potatoes, Rooster & rice.

The system they arrived up with, known as “grind eating,” takes favored food items and reinterprets them in an much easier-to-digest, handheld variety, although retaining familiar textures and flavors. The results are typically beautiful—nothing like puréeing, in which all the things turns into blended-up mush. Just take steak and potatoes: Just after the meat is ground, it’s mixed with gravy, then topped with duchess potatoes. The conclude product or service looks like a extravagant, cupcake-shaped canapé that can be eaten in two bites, no fork or knife expected.

The pilot system was so successful that the two females turned it into a business enterprise. Their approach has because been deployed at assisted-living amenities across the place, which includes three Washington-place ones managed by Watermark, in Fairfax, Alexandria, and Rockville. Watermark released the plan in 2015 and now trains all of its culinary workers in it. The facilities’ chefs choose section in an immersive, ten-week system stuffed with cooking demonstrations and trainings on how to use special machines. Gorham and Morris show up at, too.

Dishes organized throughout a the latest instruction in the “grind dining” procedure.

1 profit, says Jonathan Garber, government director of Rockville’s the Seneca, is that the handheld portions enable citizens to stroll about the eating room while they take in. “It’s authorized our customers to prosper, to really feel the socialization,” he states, “and not to be shy about eating.”

The Seneca’s eating director, Jason Love, suggests there is one thing in it for the workers, as well: “We can truly embrace our inventive culinary side and not be so rigid. In convert, our customers stop up essentially blossoming.”

Maya Pottiger