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Cooking With Parkinson’s: Safety Tips and Handy Kitchen Tools

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According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, around one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease, and around 60,000 are diagnosed with the disease every year. The condition produces motor symptoms such as poor coordination, stiffness, and tremors, which can make it hard to execute everyday tasks like cooking.

Because of this, people with Parkinson’s disease may need to adjust their cooking practices and routines. If you have Parkinson’s, just a few basic changes to your meal prep, namely following certain safety tips and using specific kitchen tools, can help restore your enjoyment of dining.

Kitchen environment and meal preparation

How you arrange your kitchen environment to accommodate your restrictions due to Parkinson’s is key to cooking safely.

Occupational therapists recommend reorganizing your kitchen to maintain easy access to the items you use most often.

Place frequently used kitchen items like particular pots, pans, plates, and cups on the countertop at an easily reachable height. In your refrigerator, place the food items you most often consume on the top or middle shelf to avoid stooping, and keep them near the front of the shelves so you don’t have to move things around each time you want those items.

To free up more of your kitchen counter space for food prep, store cutting boards in cabinets; even your microwave can be installed inside a cabinet.

The key to successful cooking is effective planning, and this particularly true when cooking with Parkinson’s. When setting up to prepare a meal, ready your cooking space first by clearing off unnecessary items from the counter and stove tops, then collect all the utensils and ingredients you will need.

This will make the activity easier and faster to complete, saving you energy and reducing your trips across the kitchen.

Handy kitchen utensils

According to the results of a 2020 study, people with Parkinson’s found adaptive eating devices useful; specifically, the authors found that “performance and satisfaction increased significantly after the introduction of the adaptive eating device.”

If you have Parkinson’s disease, you may find some common kitchen utensils difficult to use. Fortunately, you can modify them and purchase adaptive appliances to help simplify the cooking process.

Some companies even produce utensils specifically for people with Parkinson’s. They may be weighted to help eliminate tremors while cooking and eating, or have a strap or handle for improved grip and to stabilize the hands. Items with higher sides and sealable lids can help avoid spills while scooping.

Purchase a pot stand to facilitate tasks like mixing and pouring. The suction cups on their underside stick to your countertop, helping to prevent spills.

Use tubular pipe insulation (available in most hardware stores) to fortify the handles of your kitchen utensils and make them easier to grip.

Using a sharp knife to cut food can be dangerous for anyone; it is even more so for people with Parkinson’s. To improve knife safety, purchase adaptive cutting boards with non-slip backing and built-up sides to help keep the items you’re cutting in place. You may also find it easier and safer to cut with electric knives.

Here are other qualities you can look for in adaptive kitchen utensils. Similar tools and tips for dining and washing dishes more handily with Parkinson’s exist as well:

  • Adaptive foam
  • Changeable angles
  • Automation
  • Movement detection
  • Removable cuffs
  • Sloped scooping

With adapted cooking tools and these tips, people with Parkinson’s disease can maintain a higher level of independence for longer.

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