I always start my story with" I went to sleep as LeaAnn and woke up a total stranger.
On September 2014 Labor day, I suffered a bleeding stroke and brain anyurism followed by brain surgery to relieve the pressure. This was caused by a blood infection I caught in my mechanical heart valves due to some routine dental surgery. The doctors told my family that if I survived I would never be the same. After 3 months of intense physical therapy, learning how to walk, talk, Chew, swallow, walk and talk, the doctor was right about one thing. I will never be the Same.
For those with a permanent or temporary physical disibility involving mobility impairment, cooking can present challenges as well as opportunities for creative problem solving. Not all disibilties or people are the same, but some of these common issues in limitations in standing or reaching or if you have had stroke, injury or surgery, using one side of the body.
*Strategies Plan Ahead: For me, while planning saves time and money, for every home cook with a disability, it is crucial for those with disibilities. I make careful shopping lists, and I build myself a little one-way in your cooking. As I get easily sidetracked and easily overwhelmed, working with small simple quantities. Saving big bulk cooking for days you have help.
*Break it down: Take a look at whatever you want to cook and break it down. I sure wish I had known all of this in the beginning.. Cooking has been a struggle, being it something I love to do I have been determined to make it work.
For example, plan to hit the fridge only once instead of 10 times throughout the process of making a dish. I have a little basket I carry to the fridge and load up. Have everything ready before you start cooking.
*De-clutter: This makes a huge difference for me as I get easily overwhelmed in the kitchen. Storing to many things together makes it physically difficult to get what you need, especially when the heavy items are stored.
I have a roll out tray, it's smart storage at convenient height, a TV or dinner tray works great and saves money. It will help make your work in the kitchen so much more efficient and pleasant. Rearrange, throw out, and reduce and organize food and other items, so access is greatly enhanced.
Rest if needed: I like to start my meal prep, get everything ready before I cook. I give myself plenty of time to stop and rest when I need to. Keep a chair close by or a stool just in case you need to sit down
*Cooking food is so therapeutic: Appreciate the process, cooking is good for the soul. If you have limited motor skills it might affect how perfectly you cut an onion or roll out dough, but enjoying the experience.
*Coutertop height: If your in a wheelchair, lowering counters is good. If you have the funds. Having a counter on wheels as a working surface also helps.
*Those with visual impairments, measuring cups that talk or are written in Braille help.
* Rather than buy large handled utensils made for people with grip issues, you can tape rubber foam around the handled. If you have trouble using a traditional rolling pin a paint roller handle with a wooden dowel attached is an easy, homemade variation.
*Cutting boards: If you cannot stand, I recommend using a cutting board across your lap. I put a fusion under the board. Worked perfectly after my stomach surgeries.
*A push cart: A push cart on wheels, the kind you can get at target or home depot is a really good secret weapon.
*Kitchen tools: There are so many adaptive tools that Not many know exist. Example, there are cutting boards with a spear to help you secure the food, rocker knives.. Talk with occupational therapist.
In a wheelchair, it is almost impossible to get up close enough to the typical counter because your feet will be blocked . I did most of my food prep on a pull out chopping board on top of it to try and extend the surface.
Beacause of the depth of the typical countertop, one of my most useful gadgets is a hook on the end of a pole. We use it to grab the blender, toaster, and waffle maker.I hope that these simple tips will help make your experience in the kitchen much easier.