Simple tips … organizing and helping in the kitchen after brain injury

25 Jan

The kitchen is an area that can create significant chaos when things get put away in the wrong place.  It’s distressing to those who tried to help and upsetting to the person who does the cooking and serving.  It can be a win-win situation, instead of lose-lose scenario!  It’s a difficult balance between frustration and anger.Everything has a place!

If the keeper of the kitchen is meticulous it’s difficult to be helpful early after TBI.  Traumatic brain injury survivors reach their highest level of functioning by relearning tasks and working hard improving with even the simplest of tasks.  Try to put aside the “perfectionism” and accept what assistance you can get from those willing to help. Clearly mark each shelf

Labels on cupboard shelves help everyone put things back in the right places.  These labels especially help those who are assisting others in the kitchen put things away in their proper places.  It is difficult to have things out-of-place or misplaced when routine is necessary and time is of essence for the chef-of-the-kitchen. Nonetheless, routine is necessary to create new neuro pathways and develop new memory skills.

Labels help identify correct place

Labels help identify correct place

People surviving chronic illness, traumatic brain and spine injuries, diseases and other chronic problems do not want to be a burden on others.  They want others to accept all they have to offer.  Please step back and ask yourself “are you letting others help even if it seems like you can get it done faster?”  Is faster always better?

By accepting help you can enhance relationships by simply holding conversations while you work together.  You can also help others reach their optimal level of functioning by helping with their rehabilitation.

Ways WE can help

Clearly label each shelf!

Clearly label everything!

  • Set the table
  • Clear the table
  • Rinse dishes
  • Stack dishes
  • Load dishwasher
  • Unload dishwasher
  • Wash dishes by hand
  • Dry dishes
  • Put dishes away
  • Peeled hard boiled eggs
  • Make salad
  • Simple tasks for cooking as allowed by “chef”
  • Read recipe out loud to “chef or cook”


    Everything will have a place.

  • Write the grocery list


  • Dust or sweep the floor
  • Lead a “Thankful” Day discussion
  • Engage in “Current Event” conversation


There are places and things in the kitchen that can be hazardous to others so safety is always a priority.  If a person needs supervision never leave them alone.  Remember supervision is required for safety.

People always want to help.  Oh maybe not … but those recovering from brain injury are  looking for ways to help and feel appreciated.  They feel helpless and want to be helpful.  With a few cues in the kitchen you can help with the rehabilitation process and everyone will be happy.

Have you been able to identify ways others might help in the kitchen?  What are they?  Have you moved away from the “perfectionism” attitude and accepted what others have to offer?  Tell us what works or what doesn’t.

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2 responses to “Simple tips … organizing and helping in the kitchen after brain injury

  1. Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife

    January 25, 2013 at 3:15 am

    Excellent tips. So often, we forget that there are real people inside the sick, with feelings and needs.

    A thought-provoking post.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 26, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      The simple things in life, aren’t as simple as we think until a brain injury, neurological disease or problem, and any type of brain dysfunction interferes with daily life. Finding new ways to function is key. Sharing even the most basic things will help others get over some little hurdles and move on.


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