Organizing the kitchen to facilitate safe and convenient food preparation. Being able to cook and prepare foods is a key measure of independence. For the person with Parkinson’s, as the disease progresses many tasks that once required little thought begin to require considerable effort. It becomes difficult to reach up or bend down. As well, tremors and other symptoms make use of utensils, especially knives, and kitchen appliances such as can openers, difficult. A few simple measures can make the kitchen more efficient for the person with Parkinson’s:
• Rearrange cupboards and drawers to put commonly used items within easy reach.
• Label or otherwise identify commonly used seasonings and spices. Write the names in printed block letters on self-adhesive labels, for example.
• Leave regularly used appliances, such as electric can openers, on the countertop and plugged in, so they are ready to use.
• Forgo throw rugs and other potential falling hazards. Make sure there is clear and uncluttered access to counters, stove, sink, and refrigerator.
• Use a self-contained floor mop, which has detergent in a dispenser, to make cleaning up minor spills easier.
• Prepare commonly used foods in advance, and store them in single-serving quantities.
• Use carton holders with handles for cartons of milk and orange juice to make them easier to pick up and pour.
• Place burner covers over stove burners when the stove is not in use.
• Inventory cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer weekly to check for outdated food items as well as to make sure necessary or desired food items are available.
As the Parkinson’s progresses, it is important for family members or caregivers to monitor the person’s ability to manage kitchen tasks safely. Sharing these tasks can be a way to spend time together that is enjoyable as well as productive and helps to maintain the person’s sense of independence.