Senior Living on the Suncoast

Cooking Safely

April 30, 2021 Steve Bennet-Martin, Margaret Clark Season 2 Episode 5
Senior Living on the Suncoast
Cooking Safely
Show Notes Transcript

Steve Bennet-Martin welcomes back Therapy Manager, Margaret Clark, on to discuss ways for seniors to cook safely in their own home. Margaret has worked at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sarasota for over three decades and has a passion for helping seniors live as independently as they safely can. 

Topics Discussed Include:

  • Encompass Health Rehabiltation Hospital and what Acute Rehab is
  • Meal Preparation
  • Important of a good diet
  • The 4 Principals of Energy Conservation
    • Prioritizing
    • Planning
    • Positioning
    • Pacing
  • Adaptive Equipment

Call Encompass for help today at 941-921-8600

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Steve:

Hi everyone. And welcome to senior living on the Suncoast. I'm your host, Steve Bennett, Martin. And I'm happy to bring you the only senior centered podcast to assist us all. As we navigate the complex systems of aging together, up and down, the Suncoast to Florida. My mission with this podcast is to help make the rest of your life is the best of your life, which means today, we're going to be talking about kitchen safety and cooking tips. Now our guest expert for this episode is Margaret Clark. She is the therapy manager at encompass health rehabilitation hospital. Sarasota, welcome to the show, Mark. Thank

Margaret:

you. And thank you for having me back. Yes,

Steve:

yes. And now I want to refresh our listeners. If you haven't listened to two episodes ago, we had you on for how to live safely. And that was just a very important topic that if you haven't listened, go back and listen. But if you're refusing to listen to my information and recommendation, tell them just a brief history of, you know, how long you've been at encompass and what you

Margaret:

do. Okay. Well, I'm an occupational therapist by background. I have been the therapy manager for probably around 10 years now. I have been with the company for approximately 30 years ever since I actually came over here so long time with this company.

Steve:

Excellent. One thing. I love a staying power. And even though previously, you weren't always known as encompass. You used to be

Margaret:

health South. We were indeed. And I was there as well.

Steve:

Exactly. Yes. That was a more recent change. So with your tenure there, but I'm sure that change was quite exciting for you.

Margaret:

It was very exciting, especially when they they built the nice new hospital and then it transitioned. A couple of years ago to encompass health and you're adding

Steve:

more beds.

Margaret:

Ah, 20 more beds,

Steve:

20 more beds. I was like, I thought at one point it was 19, but I, I think that's what I have 19 memory care beds in my community at a hardest. So that's 20 new beds that it's

Margaret:

excellent. Yeah. We going to be 116 beds, so it's a nice rehab hospital. Excellent,

Steve:

but getting to the topic at hand, I know that you know, in terms of kitchen safety, a lot of it is going to be meal preparation and cooking. So I love cooking. Cooking is important, but meal preparation is what the. The scientific or clinical term is used a lot of times when defining that process with ADL's are activities of daily living. So can you kind of define a little bit about what activities of daily living are and how S meal preparation fits

Margaret:

into it? Activities of daily living a very important component of what occupational therapists actually do. It is basically working on all the functional activities that we do on a daily basis. Even things as basic as getting dressed. You know, managing bathing, grooming all of those activities. Some of our higher level ADL's are things like meal preparation, household activities, medication management, those kinds of things. So those are what we would call more of a higher level ADL activity. So that's basically where kitchen safety and meal preparation comes

Steve:

in. Excellent. Before we get into that, just out of personal curiosity, because I wanted to ask you about this during our living safely episode, but what is the difference between it? ADL and IADL because I work in assisted living and independent living and we use ADL's all the time in terms of our lingo, because that's how long-term care policies oftentimes also recognize the benefits and help you're getting. But what our ID I a D L's and what do they

Margaret:

entail? Basically? What I just mentioned ADL's are the basic things. So, you know, as I say, getting dressed, bathing, and grooming, managing to go to the restroom, those kinds of things, I ADL's are the more complex tasks. So more independent activities of daily living. Those are the things like cooking meal, preparation household activities is the same medication paying bills. You know, those

Steve:

kinds of fun stuff. We all love to do all the time. Okay. Gotcha. Gotcha. So, yes, because I know that if you need help paying your bills, that doesn't count as an activity of daily living for the long-term care insurance company. So I could see why that's an, a very important thing to do still seniors. So don't forget to,

Margaret:

Oh, absolutely. He would be in serious trouble if you didn't I'm sure. Exactly.

Steve:

But yes. So meal preparation is a very important part of that, but meal preparation, the reason why you want to really. Plan and prepare your meals from what I understand is just so that you're eating healthy and having a good diet. Is that correct?

Margaret:

Well, you know, cooking and meal preparation is a, is an essential daily activity. You know, it's, it's a challenging atmosphere that you've some of us, you know, I I love to cook actually. Let me rephrase that. I love to bake

Steve:

baking and cooking are different. Yes.

Margaret:

Extremely different. But they can be very challenging. But it's an essential thing. It's also part of a social life, you know, we like to gather to eat. I know last year with the COVID thing going on, all social gatherings were a little bit more alarming, limited, but people like to. Prepare meals. It's a very social thing to do. So it's part of an essential, or it's an essential part of your everyday daily tasks, even if you're only cooking for yourself or your spouse, then, you know, it's still part of an essential activity that you need to be doing. Not only that you know, it is a bit more of a complex task. So for our. You know, more senior population, elderly people. It's, it's a nice activity to keep you as independent as possible as well is it's a complex cognitive task. It's also a complex physical tasks. So it's part and parcel of, of helping to maintain independence. And yes. There are some things, you know, that you really should be considering, you know especially again with the COVID, as it's been over the last year, it's really essential that we do look at what we're eating, you know? I don't know about anybody else, but I'm, I'm on that. COVID 19 thing, you know, where you you put on a few pounds because I think stress eating, I

Steve:

didn't get the COVID-19, but I did gain the COVID-19.

Margaret:

I'm kind of with you on that. So, you know, looking at a healthy diet is really, really important, not only because it's going to help to decrease your risk of having to go to the physician, you know, those kinds of things. It's just going to help with your general wellbeing and maintaining a more healthy lifestyle. So, you know, looking at a healthy diet, they definitely recommend that the Mediterranean diet is one of the diets that you. Should focus on, I'm not a dietician, but I know I try and you know, kind of think about that, except when I'm doing my baking and then it kind of goes out the window a little bit, but

Steve:

I was gonna say, cause I think everything in moderation is also a very important part

Margaret:

of your life. Absolutely. Yes. My dad always said you can eat what you want if you eat it in moderation. So

Steve:

exactly. And I'm part of, I mean, moderation, preparation, all of that, from what I understand all boils down to your four principles of energy conservation, as you told me. So.

Margaret:

Right. So as an occupational therapist, energy conservation is extremely important. I am probably not the best example of this because I tend to run around like a crazy person all day, but I do value the components of energy conservation. Just backing up just a little bit as well. You know, when you're talking about cooking, it's a pretty dangerous activity in many different ways. And so if you have some medical conditions or some. You know, concerns like your balance is not as good or your vision is not as good. You really do need to pay a little bit more attention. So looking at the principles of energy conservation and relating it to how you are preparing your meals and how you are organizing yourself is really important. So yes, four principles of energy conservation, prioritizing planning, pacing, and positioning, and just talking about those, you know, Well, we'll go

Steve:

ahead and talk about, I was gonna say, why don't we start with prioritizing, then we'll prioritize. Prioritizing.

Margaret:

Okay, so you may just be cooking for yourself or your spouse, and it may be a really high priority for you to do so for some people, it may not be as such a high priority. And so, you know, consider thinking about that, is it really important for you to have, to be able to make the meal? Or is it just okay for you to be able to do part or components of preparing the meal and having somebody else to actually cook for you? My husband has recently started taking over dinner and it is the best thing ever. I love it. I can come in from work. Of course, he needs a lot of guidance, but I can come in from work and the meal is pretty much prepared by the time I get home. I'm okay with letting that go because I'd rather focus on different priorities, you know you may only be able to cook a simple meal. So think about what kind of meal you make. Maybe you make breakfast and have somebody else do lunch and dinner. You know, that's something else you can think about doing, you may have to adjust your activities during the day in order to ensure that you're not too fatigued to perform. Meal preparation later in the day. So complete your meal preparation in the morning when maybe you're having you know, you have more energy to be able to do so. So prioritizing how you're planning or prioritizing how you're doing that meal. Preparation is really important or what part of meal preparation you actually want to do?

Steve:

Yes. I think that that's an important question because that's something that people, I pretty much have to ask at this point, whenever I'm touring people at our community, hardest Venice, because in our independent living apartments, we do have kitchens and that's been a big draw for people that have moved into communities that didn't have kitchens. And they miss that part where that is important to them. They do miss cooking. They do want to be behind the stove or bake their cookies or cook their meatloaf. And then we've had other people that are like, I can't wait to give it up. I never want to. See my kitchen again, when I move, I'm not even bringing my baking supplies. Cause you know, I'd rather have your chef just cook all of my things for me. So people seem to like go from one end to the others and so prioritizing, I can understand it. So just ask yourself, like, what do you need to cook? Like, do you need a cook? Do you need a kitchen? Because you need to cook every single day? Or do you need a kitchen? Because we're like an oven because once a week you like to bake your cookies. Like which one is. Important for you.

Margaret:

Exactly. Exactly.

Steve:

Yeah. Now what about planning? Cause I know that I know I do a whole lot better when I plan my week. Like on Saturdays, I typically write out all my groceries. I need to get for the week to make all of my dishes. And that's what helps me not order bites quite every single night and get, you know, the Italian place to the ramen place up or down the road. So tell me a little bit more about how you define planning and how that can help everyone. Not just my crazy with

Margaret:

that. Yeah, I do. I agree with you. I think it's really important and I do the same thing, Steve I'll, but I'll be honest. I actually do the same thing. I do. I, I kind of plan ahead. I make my grocery list. You know, making sure that I've got, if I'm looking at my most recent cookbook or I see a recipe that I really want to do, you make sure you've got all the ingredients because that makes it easier for you. Make a list of, of recipes and make sure you get them on your shopping list. Look at your schedule and plan the simple meals for your busier days and more complex meals for less busy days double up recipes and put things in the freezer. That's an awesome thing. I always make, my husband tells me I cannot cook for two people. I cook for at least six people. And so some of it goes into the freezer,

Steve:

right?

Margaret:

I can't do that. But anyway we do have it. We do have it in the freezer or we'll have it for dinner the next day,

Steve:

maybe. And that's one thing that I grew up with my mom calling it Moscow where like, like it's typically like Sunday through Thursday, she'd have like your meals and then Friday was Moscow and it was all the stuff that must go from there, from the refrigerator. But it was all of our leftovers for the week. The first time I said to my husband, I was like, why don't we have Mackow? He was like, the lip curls up in the, the eyes were in disgust. What are we having? And when I explained it, it wasn't much better. That's fine. Yes. It helps having those leftovers. When you, when you cook and that abundance,

Margaret:

you go to the grocery store. Look at shopping on the outside. We were talking about diet before and they do recommend that you actually shop around the outside. Side of the store because all the aisles have all that really good stuff that is really bad for you. So yeah, shopping the perimeter.

Steve:

So is that what you mean by when you say positioning or dispositioning in something

Margaret:

else? So positioning is something else to that. So make sure you keep your pantry stocked with lots of different items to make things interesting. You know, herb spaces, not screens, those kinds of things. When you are shopping, if you don't shop like I do, I shop vicariously through my Instacart. Shopper who I'm getting very friendly with some of them. I have to tell you if you do actually go shopping and you are tired or you don't get around as well, shops are huge. Grocery stores are enormous. So use the grocery cart, the motorize go to grocery carts, get somebody to help you. A lot of people actually you know, can help you grocery shops. So plan ahead, call them and tell them you need assistance to go around the grocery store. Again, that's going to help to make sure that you can still do all those things. One thing that I do do is I always to rinse all my produce when I bring it home. And so that is a step less when you're actually doing your cooking. I started doing that. Yeah, absolutely. And as I say, take advantage of online shopping. It's great. I mean, seriously, it's the best thing ever, although I'm, I'm toying with the idea of. Of paying my husband to do it now, because now he's beginning to get a little bit less fearful to go out to the groceries

Steve:

and, and see, meanwhile, like, I, I love my, my personal shopper. I have, I use bla black black market business personal shopping services, but, you know, having a personal shopper with all my other errands, I don't like, but grocery shopping is when I'm holding on to right now. Right. Yes. Now, do we want to get into positioning and what that is for your four P's? Yes.

Margaret:

And remember, we're still relating all this to energy conservation, the idea of energy conservation. If you think about it, what does energy conservation mean? It means using your resources very wisely. It means making sure that you're not over fatiguing yourself. It means you know, actually one of the best things that I ever found out about energy conservation was. Relating it to a bank balance. You know, you want to make sure, you know, think of your energy as the money and you don't want to overspend it. You don't want to overdraw it because you're going to get into serious trouble. You want to spend it very wisely. You know, I don't know about you, but I can't just decide. I want to buy something. I have to think very carefully about what I'm spending. So it's the same with your energy and that's where the prioritizing and the planning and the positioning comes in. So positioning. We touched briefly on organization when I came to you last time and did the last podcast organization is key. Make sure your kitchen is organized. Well, you know, we talked again about overreaching, making sure that your most essential items are in the easiest place to get. I told you, as I said, I am a huge Baker. I love to bake. I like to make cakes. I like to bake for things. That's my way of, of, you know, sort of. Just enjoying my time. I went home and baked four different baked goods last night.

Steve:

So w with possesses, with positioning, I'm guessing it would be silly then for you to put something like the sugar on like the top shelf and the bag behind,

Margaret:

you know, I'm better than that. I have a whole cabinet just for my baking supplies and all my appliances are right there, so I really don't have to move.

Steve:

Figure it out that so teach us.

Margaret:

So the other thing you, you, we want to think, and not only about positioning where you're, where you're putting your goods, making sure your pantry is organized. So it's easy for you to be able to get things it's about positioning yourself. You know, standing is a very fatiguing thing to do. You may want to sit down, you know, there's no law that says you have to stand to chop vegetables. You can actually sit down at the kitchen table and do it. If you want to, you know, it's, it's, it's looking at how you're doing things as well and positioning yourself. To the best advantage to use the least amount of energy. So again, intermittent standing, intimate it's setting, you know, you, don't making sure that you can reach things carefully or easily because that's going to use less energy. So that is kind of what I'm meaning with positioning. So it's not just positioning your items and your. Food supplies it's positioning yourself. Exactly.

Steve:

I completely understand because my mother-in-law like, I mean, the Martin family in general is huge on baking every Christmas. It's a winter Wonderland, but with all of that baking as she's, you know, as we all get older, she's having more trouble moving around the kitchen. And it got to the point where it moving around the full kitchen was too much for her. But, you know, there was one or two years where, because of that, she, you know, Just waited in the living room until we were all done. But in the past year or two, she's finally gotten to that point where she's like, no, I'll sit at the table. And even though I can't be standing up in the kitchen behind that behind the counter, doing all the things I normally would do walking around the kitchen, I can still sit on the table and I can help with this mix. Or like, I can tell you what to do. I can tell you what to do or can, you know, roll out these cookies or do this part of this recipe and just positioning herself in a way that's safe. Right. So important to being able to keep doing what she loves and she's

Margaret:

prioritizing too, because she's prioritizing, she wants to be part of it, but she's prioritizing what she is able to do and what she wants to do. So that's a great she's learning. She is. Exactly.

Steve:

And then, I mean, last we've also learned maybe I'm guessing what pasting means by we've also learned that. Our Martin family baking day used to be one day where we spent literally eight hours baking. And we've just learned that as we're all getting older and we're all getting busier that we can't do that same type of thing. So we've split that yearly tradition into from being a one day a year. To two Saturdays a year, just to make it a little bit more paced out. And so, as, as am I kinda on the right track, you

Margaret:

are definitely on the right track. And so again, you know, we talked briefly at the beginning, you know, when you're talking about meal preparation, you might want to consider doubling things so that then you don't have to do two meals. On two days, you've got food for the rest of the week or for a couple of days. You want to make sure. You know, I don't know about you, but I'm a morning person. It drives my husband crazy. I'm literally out of bed and I'm like the Energizer bunny. Even without coffee, believe it or not. He limits me to too.

Steve:

I woke up at five and I couldn't figure out why. And I've been up since then going just

Margaret:

fine. That's me. So I like to do a lot of my stuff in the morning because I know that's kind of me now. Bye. Six 37 o'clock I'm done, you know, so that is not my best time. So, you know, pacing yourself, looking at when your best time is to do things is going to make it a lot easier for you spreading things out, not overwhelming yourself. I mean like you were talking about the Christmas cookies and that kind of thing. If you do that, you know, and we all want to be able to do everything we want to do. Well, we just can't, as we get older, we just can't so spreading things out, maybe spending a couple of hours every day, instead of eight hours on one day you know, pacing yourself from that things like taking shortcuts, like pre-chopped veggies and that kind of stuff for me. It's okay to

Steve:

do that. That it would not be okay if I was to bring that to a family gathering, but yes, I do understand in a normal household, I would totally be okay. Normally. Yes. And I do agree now I also, from what I understand, I mean, there are also adaptive equipment and tools and things that you can use to help make your, your cooking experience a little bit easier, right? Yes.

Margaret:

One pot meals, anybody heard of the instant pot, best thing ever love it. I

Steve:

have not used the instant. I have not used the Instapot yet, but I have done like one pot meals where like I make my one pot, like chicken and sausage or Azo.

Margaret:

Awesome. See, because you're, you're using one pile saves on washing off. It saves on all sorts of things. And I will tell you the instant pot cuts down time as well. So using things like that, but adaptive equipment, you want to be very careful. We talked a little bit about inattention and when we're. You know, we're talking a little bit about safety with us as well. It's not just a meal prep thing because I am certainly not a cook. My husband has to do a sweep of the kitchen to make sure I switch everything off at the end of it. Please make sure somebody does that for you. See,

Steve:

I am a, I'm a good cook in terms of the food I produce, but the number of times we'll be watching a movie at eight o'clock at night, and we hear the little click that haven't been on for like two hours. He's like, he's like, did you turn that off? I'm like, Hmm. Maybe, no, I don't. I never

Margaret:

did my seriously. My husband sweeps the kitchen, not my sweep. I don't mean actually physically sweep the kitchen. He looks to make sure everything is turned off at the end of it. So paying attention. So things like making sure that you, your knives are sharp. If you are. You know, you do have some impairment, maybe your grip is not as good as it was or your you know, your attention is not as good as it was even things like, you know, Mets on your hands when you're cutting. That's where the pre-chopped vegetables come in using a food chopper, knife, guides, that kind of thing. Things like bowls with non-slip surfaces. So it makes it easier for you to be able to mix things die. Same as a wonderful thing. I don't own, anybody knows what that is, but it's a non-slip material that you can get. You can also use, you know, that stuff that you could put under the cautions to stop cushions from slipping. You can get to at any point. Sure anyway. Well, you have no idea, but anyway,

Steve:

our listeners,

Margaret:

you can put that underneath the bowl and it'll help to stabilize the bowl when you're mixing. If you're having difficulty, I mean, I'm English. I have my cup of tea every afternoon.

Steve:

I am address that this episode. So I was going to let that be the elephant in the

Margaret:

room. And well, yes I am. And so I like to meet my cup of tea and of course I have my cattle and you do not make Tiana cattle. You pour the oil water in the cattle, and then you put the water into a teapot. But if you're having difficulty holding or lifting heavy jokes, they have things that you can put the little thing that the jug on and tips. So you don't actually have to lift it. Things like emptying, if you, if you're cooking veggies and you are doing them in a Pan of water, put us a basket inside it so that when you drain the veggies, you can just lift the basket out. You don't have to lift the heavy pot of water, wait for the water to cool, and then pour the water away. So you don't have heavy hot. Pans of water to move things like larger grips on equipment, make it much easier. If somebody is having difficulty with holding things, you know, ultra light silverware is really good. The good grips, and I'm not a promoter of any particular brand, but good grips. I was gonna

Steve:

say, we are not affiliated with any product. If any product wants to become affiliated with us, you can reach out to [email protected]

Margaret:

Make sure you have a really good pot holders as well. And, and on a final note, Oh, steps. Yes.

Steve:

Tools are important if you're gonna be putting things up high. Well, they

Margaret:

are, but actually you're better off asking somebody taller to get something out for you. Especially as you get older, please don't stand on step stools. If you have to use the ones with the handle, you know, it's a step and there's a handle to hold on to don't climb on the countertops. Like I tend to do, I. When I can't wait for my husband to come in and I know really

Steve:

bad. I know the last time I did that, but I'm like, I remember my knees being up on the counter top. So yes, we don't want to be recreating those scenes from when we were children, trying to get the cookie jars as full grown adults. Now this topic as important as it is as something that you also. Can spend much longer, we're talking about to professionals interested. And so for professional listeners that they wanted more information or even. Seniors and caregivers, your expertise can be found through Amy who helps figure out where you're going to be speaking on when, and I know her number is (941) 705-7070. But if someone needed the help of encompass, what would be the best way to reach them for help regarding their services?

Margaret:

Telephone number is nine four one nine two one. Eight six zero, zero. And you can definitely contact us if you have any questions or would like to get more information.

Steve:

Excellent. And thank you so much for joining us for not just this one, but the last episode as well. You were a pleasure, so

Margaret:

thank you so much. Thank you very much for inviting me. Bye bye.