Sometimes life has a way of putting Team Kgsr some seemingly insurmountable physical challenges in your path, especially if you are in a wheelchair. I like to think of myself as a problem solver, sometimes “outsmart” the problem by thinking outside of the box. I had to use this “I can do this” mindset was an Easter dinner several years ago.
Easter was two days away, and the whole family was coming for dinner. If I was going to get the ham thawed in time, I needed to get it out of the freezer and into the refrigerator. I decided I could get the ham on the counter, and I would ask my daughter to put it in the refrigerator when she visited that evening. Good plan; the only thing is my daughter came and went, and the ham never crossed my mind. Now I had a real dilemma. The ham could not sit out all night, and I was not expecting other guests that evening.
Every time I tried to lift the ham from my lap to the refrigerator shelf, it would drop. Now it was time for some creative problem-solving. To overcome this obstacle, I created a transfer board out of a cookie sheet. I put one end of the board on my lap and one end on the shelf. All I needed to do was slide the ham up the cookie sheet to the shelf. Voila! Sometimes we have to go about things in a different way to accomplish the task.
MS has provided me with enough challenges to last a lifetime, but it has helped me realize how difficult and exhausting even everyday tasks can be. Unfortunately, sometimes these challenges are not evident to the people around us. The suggestions presented in this article attempt to help families understand how they can help a physically limited relative or friend. Or, these thoughts might give you insight into how to become more self-sufficient.
TIPS TO INCREASE SAFETY AND INDEPENDENCE IN THE KITCHEN
MS has forced us to deal with limited strength and dexterity issues, poor vision or balance, or memory lapses. Any of these problems can make it difficult and unsafe to accomplish necessary tasks for the kitchen. In most cases, the longer someone can be safely independent, the happier they will be.
How families can help:
Think ready to grab, heat, and eat. If some Good Samaritan fixes a large quantity of something, have it stored in the freezer in individual serving containers. Then, it can be microwaved and eaten from the same container.
Microwave diner plates with covers allow you to make a plate with multiple items and then freeze it. This would be a way for a family member to offer help. Just save a serving of each dish from a meal created for members of your household. Then, when ready to eat, it just has to be thawed and microwaved.
Use non-breakable containers instead of glass. Opt for small containers that hold one serving and can go from freezer to microwave. Deep-walled dishes also provide sides to help scoop food onto an eating utensil. Freeze bread, bagels, and English muffins to keep them from getting stale. In this way, you can take out one serving at a time. Make sure the bagels and muffins are sliced before freezing. People with poor sensation in their fingertips find it difficult to use storage bags that require you to line up two tracks and press them together. Closing bags with twist ties or plastic clips, likewise, can be frustrating. I have everything transferred to zipper-type storage bags.
Modifications to make food preparation easier:
Induction Cooktop – Because of the physical problems encounter with MS, being around an open heat source poses the risk of burns. An Induction Cooktop uses magnetic waves to cause the coils in the bottom of a pot or pan to heat. The cooktop itself remains cool, and accidentally touching the bookplate will not cause burns to the skin. My research leads me to believe a Pacemaker can be affected by these microwaves, so you need to use caution if the person coming in contact with it has this heart aid.
Countertop microwave – Many homes have a microwave over the stove, which can be difficult to use and unsafe for a person with limited strength. A counter-top microwave allows the user to transfer hot dishes to the counter more easily. Smaller, individual serving bakeware make the weight more manageable. Since the bottom of the container gets hot, I keep a pie or cake pan handy and slip dishes onto the pan. Make sure you keep items level in the transfer process
Convection Oven – A hot, open oven door is an accident waiting to happen for someone with poor balance, or it can be a hazard when someone with limited strength tries to lift a hot baking dish out of the oven. A counter-top-convection oven, which is about the size of a regular toaster oven, allows food to be transferred much easier to the counter. Instead of heating food from the bottom, a convection oven uses a built-in fan to circulate hot air evenly through the cooking area. My convection oven does an outstanding job baking without burning and operating; it is not difficult to learn. Basic convection ovens, without all the bells and whistles, cost between $100 and $150.
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