Ambassador Girl Scout, Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida
Miami Beach, FL
Memories live on through food and cooking can help ease loneliness, isolation and depression in the elderly, as Daphne Cholodofsky discovered during her numerous visits to a local nursing home.
Each time she visited her family members at The Sands at South Beach, she noticed how many of the nursing home residents appeared somber and lonely. “I realized that most residents at the nursing home no longer have family to care for them. Many of them have also gone through the tragic loss of their closest friends and family, leaving many in a constant state of mourning” Daphne observed.
That’s when this Girl Scout Ambassador was inspired to create a change.
Daphne’s Gold Award Project
Her commitment to helping the elderly led Daphne to establish the “Reminiscing About Recipes” program at the nursing home, which is aimed at bringing people together by sharing memories around making food.
“I met with residents and engaged them in conversation about their memories associated with food and cooking. I created a brochure that is available for the residents, family members, and the staff which describes the program and encourages the residents to participate,” Daphne explained.
Going a step further, Daphne trained staff at the nursing home and even created a recipe book which includes some of the residents’ favorite recipes. The book spans different cultures and countries including Nicaragua, Russia, Jamaica, and Cuba.
More Than Just Food
Although food was the base of the project, Daphne quickly realized that the participants were benefiting in other ways.
“Through my research I learned that the elderly can benefit from reminiscing exercises which can improve their mental and physical health, reduce their stress, and improve their social and communication skills,” Daphne explained.
The project was a learning experience for her too. “With each conversation I had with the residents, I became a better listener, and I learned how to adapt my program to best suit their needs.” she said.
Looking into the Future
Daphne’s “Reminiscing About Recipes” program, which was inspired by her own memories of cooking with her grandmother, is still being conducted at The Sands at South Beach.
She hopes the program will be implemented at other nursing homes in Florida and New York managed by the same company.