The mobility problems associated with Parkinson’s can make it difficult to prepare and eat meals safely.

We’ve teamed up with Kelly Barmann, OTR/L to get her tips and advice to help people with Parkinson’s continue to cook and eat at home.

In the second article in the series, Kelly discusses tips for safe meal prep that you can use to make cooking easier and safer. At the end, Katrina Kahl, Brian Grant Foundation executive director, will demonstrate a few helpful adaptive equipment tools.

Accidents can happen when people get tired. What are some tips for conserving energy while cooking?

Previously we discussed organizing your kitchen to help with safe meal prep. Now it’s important to talk about how to maintain your energy and stamina while preparing a meal. When we get tired, cognition declines which can lead to accidents. To conserve your energy while cooking I recommend:

  • Gathering all your ingredients at once to minimize your effort retrieving items and walking around the kitchen
  • Dividing up the tasks and prep work, and adding in breaks between tasks if necessary
  • For prepping and chopping items, consider purchasing pre-chopped ingredients or chop ingredients ahead of time
  • Having a chair available to sit and rest
  • Asking for help to prep items
  • Store heavy items in safe easily accessible cabinets
  • Sit in a chair to retrieve items out of lower shelves if balance is compromised
  • What are some tips for preventing falls around the kitchen?

    First, I suggest continually working on balance as often as you can. Standing up straight and keeping your posture strong gets harder with Parkinson’s, but there are many ways to improve your stance. Doing so will improve your balance, which is critical to maintaining mobility and avoiding falls. Improving balance and posture will also help you stay flexible so you can sit, stand and reach with less effort and pain.

    Your countertops are also useful for helping with stability. You can hold onto your countertops as you move around the kitchen. You can also use countertops to push or slide heavy items. And make sure to keep heavy items in lower cabinets or ask for help lifting heavy items.

    Finally don’t forget to have a chair available to take breaks if you’re feeling tired. Also make sure your kitchen area is clear of trip hazards such as rugs.

    What are some safe bending movements that people can practice to maintain their ability to prepare meals?

    Here are some helpful tips to practice safe bending:

  • Spread your feet apart to give your body a wide base of support
  • Stand as close as possible to the object you are lifting
  • Bend at your knees, not at your waist or back
  • Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the object up or lower it down
  • Hold the object as close to your body as you can
  • If you have any doubts about whether you can safely lift an object, ask for help. Lifting an object incorrectly or lifting an object that is too heavy can result in an serious injury.


    Any other tips you would like to share?

    There are many adaptive kitchen tools that can make cooking easier and safer. For example, a kitchen timer is really useful for people with Parkinson’s who may lack a sense of smell that would tell them that something is burning. There are tools to help with cutting and chopping ingredients, opening jars and cans, stabilizing utensils and other items and avoiding burns.


    Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process of preparing food!

    Next up: Tips for eating