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Elderly woman participating in a cooking class at United Hebrew elderly care home.

Look Who’s Cooking at United Hebrew!

Cooking activates the senses, sparks memories

The taste and smell of food can have powerful meaning for seniors. Cooking and eating trigger memories, strengthen connections with others, and provide cognitive and physical stimulation. And that’s a recipe for another enriching activity at United Hebrew! Launched last month, our new cooking program has already proven to be popular with our residents, according to Carrie Deppong, Director of Recreation. Led by Udo Schneider, our resident Chef and Director of Food and Nutrition Services, the first session featured a delicious creamy garlic chicken. “Once the smell of that garlic filled the air, everyone came alive,” said Deppong. “It was just magical.“ Chef Schneider began with an overview of the recipe, its ingredients, and the cooking methods required. Under his direction, our residents prepped, assisted in cooking, and enjoyed a communal meal followed by dessert. Residents talked about some of their favorite dishes to cook (shepherd’s pie, beef stew, among them), the best meals they ever had (spaghetti and meatballs) and their favorite people to cook for. They also selected next month’s recipe: tacos! “Food brings people together; it sparks memories and starts conversations. It helps our seniors reminisce about their past, and it stimulates their senses as well,” Deppong adds. “We’re so excited about this program.” Cooking is just one of the enriching activities offered to seniors in our nursing home and across our campus, which includes assisted living and memory care communities. Our residents enjoy an array of recreational, cultural, and social activities, all designed to make life more enjoyable. “What’s great about this program is that food is connected with intense emotions and feelings of love and enjoyment,” she says. “It’s also associated with holidays, celebrations, and family. So our new cooking program offers an opportunity for our residents to connect to those parts of themselves.”