elderly woman wearing red blouse
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
March 14, 2024 ·  3 min read

If You Do This While Cooking, It May Be An Early Sign Of Dementia

Dementia, often associated with the slow but sure decline of cognitive function, is usually seen through memory issues and behavioral changes. While there is currently no cure for dementia, getting an early diagnosis can help create effective strategies and support systems. That said, recognizing early symptoms is crucial for both intervention and being able to assist in coping with the condition.1

Dementia Beyond Memory Loss

Despite it being the main symptom, memory loss is not the sole indicator of dementia. According to Alzheimer’s UK, difficulties in thinking and reasoning can also signal the onset of dementia. These difficulties may include impaired concentration, increased confusion, and challenges in planning or organizing tasks, such as cooking. Dr. Richard Restak, a neurologist, emphasizes that individuals with dementia may “struggle to execute purposeful actions despite possessing the necessary knowledge and muscle strength”, which is a condition called apraxia. Essentially, even if your brain and body have done the action countless times (making classic homemade dishes), dementia can stop you from being able to continue seamlessly. Even if it’s a written-down recipe, you’ll find yourself constantly going back to it. 

Experts have stated that changes in cooking habits could be a potentially early indicator of dementia. Dr. Adam Moreton, a consultant older adult psychiatrist, notes that alterations in taste preferences and the ability to cook to previous standards could signify dementia onset. He also agrees with Dr. Restak that executive functions crucial for meal preparation, like planning and organization, may be compromised. Individuals may struggle to synchronize multiple tasks required for cooking, reflecting cognitive decline.2 Mashed potatoes? No problem (probably). Mashed potatoes and turkey and peas and buns and stuffing? Problem. 

Read More: Popcorn May Have a Connection to Lower Risk of Dementia: Study

Behavioral Changes in Culinary Preferences

The Alzheimer’s Society has also pointed out that shifts in taste perception may accompany dementia progression. Individuals may develop preferences for foods they previously disliked or reject familiar choices. Additionally, dementia can lead to inconsistent food choices contrary to long-held beliefs or preferences, indicating a departure from normal food consumption. The reasoning here is actually tied back to memory. If understanding and remembering your life is inconsistent, it would make sense that those memories aren’t limited to people and experiences but would also extend to likes and dislikes.

Recognizing early signs of dementia is pivotal for timely intervention. Professor Alistair Burns emphasizes the significance of observing tasks like cooking, particularly during festive occasions like Christmas. Forgetfulness in simple tasks, such as forgetting to turn on the oven, may serve as a warning sign to watch for. While on the topic of the holidays, forgetting the names of loved ones or gifts during celebrations could be an early indication of onset dementia.3

Seeking Support and Intervention for Dementia

If dementia symptoms are suspected, seeking a professional evaluation quickly is the next step. Early diagnosis enables individuals to have access to the appropriate support services and interventions needed to manage their condition effectively. Families are urged to be vigilant during festive gatherings, as these occasions provide the best opportunities to watch for subtle behavioral changes.

The signs of dementia come in different forms. While memory loss is the one most commonly associated, changes in cognitive functions related to simple tasks like cooking can also be a signal of the condition. Timely diagnosis and support play a crucial role in improving the quality of life for individuals living with dementia and their families. Until we find a cure, vigilance is our next best medication.

Read More: Before Dementia Sets in, Your Body Will Give You These 12 Early Warning Signs


  1. Noticing This When Cooking May Be An Early Sign Of Dementia.” Huffington Post. Amy Glover. March 3, 2024.
  2. One of the ‘first’ signs of dementia could appear when cooking, expert says.” Express. Fiona Callingham. October 15, 2023.
  3. Early warning sign of dementia you might notice while making Christmas dinner.” Mirror. Zahna Eklund. December 24, 2023