My Strategy For Following A Recipe With Alzheimer’s

Following a recipe for me used to be a simple task. Now that my memory is declining it has become an exercise in frustration. I can no longer simply follow along in a recipe and ensure it will turn out ok. What used to take me just a few minutes to prepare a dish can now take me an hour because I can’t easily follow the recipe and remember what I just did or what I need to do. Last week, I was almost in tears out of frustration for struggling with such a simple task.

I was making three dozen cookies for the holiday. After attempting to prepare the first dozen cookies, I was so frustrated because I was really struggling. I couldn’t remember what the recipe said, and whether or not I just put the ingredients in the bowl. I kept having to re-read the recipe and kept questioning whether or not I had put the ingredients in the bowl (some were very similar in appearance). I then took a break, went and exercised (which always helps clear up the brain fog) and returned to my task. I realized that I need to take a different approach now to following a recipe. I thought I would share with you how I modified my process for following a recipe in the hopes that maybe it helps someone else.

  • Pick out your recipe (mine are all on my iPad). Place it In very close proximity where you will be preparing your ingredients so you don’t have to walk away
  • Get out all the bowls and cooking supplies you will need for the recipe and place them on the kitchen counter
  • Pull all of the ingredients you will need for the recipe on the kitchen counter to the left of the cooking supplies/bowls
  • Follow the recipe. As soon as I put an ingredient (located on the left) into the bowl, I would then move the ingredient to the right (instead of putting it away immediately which would cause me to forget what I had already done. Do this for all the ingredients.
  • Put the item in the oven to bake/cook for the appropriate allotted time. I wanted to check the cookies nine minutes after they started baking so I told Siri on my phone to remind me to check the cookies in nine minutes
  • While the recipe is baking/cooking you can put away the ingredients and clean up the kitchen

Once I modified my process for baking/cooking it helped me reduce my frustration. It seemed like a pretty foolproof modification that worked for me very well. I was quite proud of myself. It has become clear to me that the best way for me to prolong my decline is to document my processes for doing things in my life like my process for making my smoothies.

Not today, Alzheimer’s, not today! You are not going to steal my joy. I’ve got this.

6 thoughts on “My Strategy For Following A Recipe With Alzheimer’s

  1. Great idea ! I love to bake .. learning from my Grandma who baked every day . I’m getting ready to make her Christmas cookies. I was worried until I read this . My onset was 57 yrs old

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    1. Glad I could help. Everything seems to be more complicated now. I have to try to calm myself down and think about what else I can do to make it easier for myself. Documenting it in my blog is a good reminder for me and others.

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  2. I love your blog and love seeing you at our monthly support group meetings too. Sharing is helpful so keep up the good work! I do want to share a tip I have shared with others about “adapting” your recipes. Being able to follow sequences and keep “referencing” a set of ingredients was one of the first things I couldn’t do. And I am a huge cook and baker. I found if the steps were retyped with only the ingredients in that step listed, it was a huge help. Example. STEP 1. In a mixer, blend the sugar, butter and vanilla till creamy. • 1/2 cup brown sugar • 1/4 cup granulated sugar • 1 cup butter (2 sticks) • 1 teaspoon vanilla. STEP 2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda. • 3 cups flour. •. 1 teaspoon baking soda, Etc etc I think you can see how it works. Having recipes done with complete steps like that eliminates the “referencing” back to ingredients which is totally confusing for anyone with memory issues. It helped me be able to continue cooking (still with help in some ways) but gave me the ability to do it. It’s work to get your recipes redone, but it was totally worth it to me. I hope to see you at the next meeting!

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    1. Hi Robin…..I enjoy seeing you at the support group meetings as well. I will not be there for the next two months due scheduling conflicts. Your suggestion for following recipes is awesome…..I will have to try it. It sounds like I am struggling with the same things you did, perhaps just a few steps behind you.

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