Cooking serves as fun, therapy for geriatric patients Volunteer at Crownsville says class helps residents work together ANNE ARUNDEL SENIORS

August 18, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

Marianna Heaney is using food to help jog the memories of the geriatric residents of Cottage 11 at Crownsville Hospital Center.

Every Thursday, the 75-year-old Annapolis woman carts her grocery bag in, passes out food and a recipe card to each of the 14 residents, and they all begin preparing their version of that week's dish. Tomorrow, for example, they'll be doing zucchini cakes.

And the Crownsville staff says it's working.

Robin Ramsay, activity therapist at Cottage 11, calls the program "one of the most successful activities the center has ever had."

The patients have begun to retain many of their skills and good memories about cooking, she said. And Mrs. Heaney is responsible for a lot of that.

"She lets the patients be independent and work at their own speeds and levels," Ms. Ramsay said. said. "She has a very calming personality. They really respond to that."

Mrs. Heaney, who has been a volunteer for 14 years at Cottage 11, dreamed up the cooking class four years ago in an effort to get the residents to work together.

"Each patient is an island unto themselves," she said. "But I can see this program bringing them together. To see them working )) together, remembering cooking with their mothers and for their children, is very heartening."

Isobel, a resident of the hospital for 30 years, says she has always loved cooking.

"I'm a good cook," she said, slicing a pepper. "One day I hope to make spaghetti and meatballs like I did for my children."

Dorothy, another resident, comes to the classes just to see Mrs. Heaney. "She's a beautiful lady," said the 68-year-old, "because she's been helping me cook for a couple years."

The class is restricted to geriatric patients, but the other residents of Cottage 11 get something from it, too. They get to share in whatever the older patients cook. Often, they line up outside the cafeteria doors in anticipation.

In addition to the cooking class, Mrs. Heaney has begun writing a history of the hospital and its women's auxiliary.

She says she will continue visiting those she calls "the forgotten ones" at Crownsville because "it's a cheerful place, really."

L "I've never thrown up my hands, and I never will," she says.

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