Cooks can play an important role in protecting the health and function of people with disabilities. Food preparation is necessary for good health, and nutrition is particularly important to people with health-related disabilities.Many useful items have been ergonomically designed to compensate for physical limitations in cooking and eating, increasing the independence and enjoyment of people who live with disabilities.
Poor nutrition is a risk factor for physical illness that leads to disabilities. In fact, nutritional status is a predictor for the development of some kinds of disability.Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins B6, B12 and selenium have been associated with the development of disability in older women, as measured by the Activities Of Daily Living (ADL) that are associated with self-care and physical independence. Physical function in some people with disabilities can be enhanced by adequate quantities of vegetables, fruits and dairy products. Bone density and muscle mass are increased by a balanced diet and, in some elderly people, good nutrition is a factor that prevents falls and the physical disability that follows bone breakage. Approximately one out of three people over the age of sixty-five falls annually, and 2/3 of these people experience another fall within a year. Approximately half of the elderly people who fall at home and break a bone never return to independent living.
Cooks who work in private homes are responsible for planning menus, purchasing food, and preparing meals and snacks. Cooks also prepare food for parties and other gatherings. Well prepared, nutritious meals increase the likelihood of an appropriate weight and a healthy nutritional status.
Cooks work on a full-time or part-time basis.Cooks who work in private homes are often responsible for purchasing food, cleaning the preparation area and, sometimes, service. The American Culinary Federation identifies programs throughout the country that offer training and accreditation. There are also people with no formal training who enjoy cooking and can serve as an inexpensive “extra set of hands” in the kitchen.Some cooks deliver food to home that has been prepared elsewhere. Federal, state and local laws regulate standards, and compliance is critical to health.
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