What can biscuits teach us about dementia care?

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It is not about the big parties, the birthdays, or the holiday celebrations. In dementia care, it is about the small things. It’s about the moments that most of us forget or take for granted.

It’s about taking my residents out for ice cream, baking cookies with them, or putting on some of their favorite songs. 

We baked biscuits on Wednesday. I had never made biscuits before, but the pre-packaged recipe that I’d purchased only called for one ingredient: water. 

My residents took turns stirring the ingredients, placing the mix onto the baking sheet, and reminiscing about what they used to make for their families. Even though I did most of the work, they still felt like it was their project. 

Some of them called out instructions to me that they’d learned through previous experience. “They need to brown at the top,” Sharon said. “Don’t take them out yet.”

While the biscuits were in the oven, I overheard another resident, Elaine, talking to one of the newer residents.

“She learns about baking with us. She doesn’t know a lot about it, but we all figure it out together,” Elaine said, pointing at me. 

I laughed to myself, because, in a way, she was right. 

“We do fun things here,” she whispered to her new friend. 

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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