The Senior Cook

Special Needs Cookware

Cooking has always been a small joy for a homemaker, even as the prospect of preparing yet another meal causes momentary dread. But once a menu or dish is decided upon, the act of cooking itself is very pleasurable.

The sight of a thick stew simmering gently, the sizzle of bacon frying, or the aroma of a slowly-roasting chicken are sensory pleasures that the Senior cook need not be deprived of if handling of the cooking utensils themselves becomes a challenge.

Little information is written about Seniors cooking. Yet many Seniors cook and should continue to engage in this most enjoyable life ritual can long as possible. As we age, medical problems can generally be improved by changing to a healthier diet as any medical professional will advise. Thus, diet and food preparation are elevated in importance for the senior.

For the senior who maintains independent living, weekly grocery planning exercises the mind, as balanced menus are planned and coupons clipped from store circulars. Shopping whether at the corner store or in a large supermarket becomes a social activity, allowing the Senior Cook to explore the store or have a friendly chat with the butcher or a neighbor.

The chopping, slicing, and mixing of ingredients for foods the Senior Cook has a particular taste for is a daily activity that can be looked forward to, stimulating the good appetite so important to maintaining a healthy weight at a time when for some seniors appetite may diminish.

Senior Cooks often struggle with the utensils of cooking too. Traditional pots can be heavy and hard to clean. A plethora of stainless steel lids may cause consternation as the Senior struggles to find a matching pot. Changes in hand strength, eyesight, and mental acuity can hinder the Senior's ability to cook confidently and may even decrease the desire to cook.

Newer cookware has been specially developed to meet the changing need for seniors or others with disabilities such as arthritis to continue to cook with ease and confidence to enjoy the foods that they always have even as they age. We will look at some of the challenges for the Senior Cook and how features of special needs cookware can help the Senior Cook to cook confidently and safely.

Heavy Pots and Pans

The older that we get the less strength we have in our arms and legs. And while the Senior Cook's strength might diminish, the weight of heavy cast iron pots and pans goes unchanged. Yet as cooks, we know we need to have heavy bottomed pots and pans to insure even cooking and to prevent foods from scorching.

Special needs cookware is often made from lighter materials but may have encapsulated bottoms to prevent food from scorching. See-through lids can eliminate the need for repeated lifting of the pot lid and thus reduce the likelihood of an accident. Pots and pans have dual handles that are ergonomically designed to be easier for aging hands to handle. Two handles create greater certainty that a brimming, hot pot is totally under total control.

The Match Game

Most kitchens contain a cabinet or drawer of pot lids and pan covers of varying sizes and descriptions. Often the search for the matching lid to a pot can be frustrating particularly if the Senior Cook's eyesight is poor.

Special needs cookware often has color-coded lids and bottoms that make the job of finding a perfectly matched set easy and fast. The Senior Cook never has to endure the mental or physical acrobatics of struggling to identify the correct lid. The perfect match is an easy choice every time.

Older Pan, Poorer Design

The tried-and-true set of cookware in the Senior Cook's arsenal often has a design well past its prime. Knobs may be missing or smaller in shape that make them difficult or even unsafe for older hands. Handles might be wobbly and screws may be rusty. Many older pans don't have non-stick surfaces that prevent food sticking and aid cleanup. Even the shapes of older pots tend to be more angular, with straight sides, preventing thorough cleaning into their sharp edged corners.

Large, oversized, ergonomically designed knobs and dual handles that special needs cookware may feature are perfect for aging hands. Sides of pots and pans may be slightly sloped for easy and complete cleaning.

Cooking is a joy. Special needs cookware can insure it continues to be a joy for the Senior Cook.
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