As we age, our bodies just don’t work the way that they did when we were younger. It takes longer for us to recover from injuries. We feel more aches and pains. We are not as limber as we once were. We also need to be more careful with what we eat and follow food safety guidelines.
The same goes for our internal organs and digestive systems. With this being said, as we grow older we need to take extra precautions.
Food can stay longer in the stomach and intestinal tracts, making us more vulnerable to food borne illnesses, more commonly known as the dreaded “food poisoning”. We have all probably had this at one time or another and it is not fun!
The other thing that happens is our liver and kidneys may not get rid of toxins as well as they used to. Entire immune systems are weaker and may not be able to fight off infections. Our sense of taste and smell may also be diminished.
Millions of people in the United States get sick every year from food borne illnesses, even though we have some of the safest food supplies in the world.
Many people by the age of 65 may have been diagnosed with some condition such as diabetes, cancer or cardiovascular disease. Along with these conditions often come some sort of medication which can alter immune systems, making food safety all that more important.
To avoid becoming a victim of food poisoning, older adults must be extra careful in handling and preparing food in their homes.
Food Safety at Home
There are certain types of food that can be more dangerous if not treated properly:
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- Raw animal products such as beef, poultry, eggs, fish and shellfish
- Deli meats and salads
Preparing Food Safely
There are steps that you can take to prevent the spread of bacteria:
- Wash hands and surfaces that you are using often
- Wash hands after using bathroom or handling pets before handling any food
- Wash all utensils and cutting surfaces to prevent cross-contamination
- Try to wipe surfaces with paper towels
- Thoroughly wash all produce
- Clean the lids of canned goods before opening
- Keep meats and produce separate
- Cook all food to safe temperatures (use thermometer to check)
- Refrigerate all foods within one to two hours after cooking
- Always thaw foods in the refrigerator and not on the counter
Older adults cannot always rely on smell so when in doubt, throw it out.
Food Safety and Becoming a Better Shopper
When at the grocery store, be aware of the surroundings. I know that we have all been in stores where it just does not look clean and it downright smells bad! Common sense is the best practice here. If it looks bad and smells bad, shop somewhere else.
Use the below guidelines when shopping:
- Read labels and check the dates
- Place raw meat in plastic bags do they don’t drip on other items
- Never buy food in unclean conditions
- Check canned goods for cracks or bulging
- Buy produce that is not bruised or looks damaged or old
Older adults tend to eat out at restaurants much more than younger adults. Here it is still important to practice food safety. How many of us have gotten food poisoning after eating at a restaurant?
Ask the server any questions and let them know of any concerns regarding ingredients or allergies. Take a good look at your food when it arrives at your table. If something doesn’t look right, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns.
If you take a doggy bag home, don’t let it sit for too long in the car.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Quite often symptoms mimic how you feel if you have the flu. Symptoms include:
If you think you may have food poisoning, seek medical treatment as necessary.
How Golden Heart Senior Care Southern Utah can help: We are here to assist with you and your loved one with the highest quality companionship and in-home care. Our highly trained caregivers can assist with meal prep, cooking and grocery shopping. Any caregiver who enters your home goes through our process of background checks, drug testing, interviews, and references. Reference our services page to learn more. We are also licensed and bonded. If you would like Golden Heart Senior Care Southern Utah to advocate for you and your loved one, please call us at (435) 669-3704.
The Golden Heart Promise: We will provide excellent care to our valued Clients, advocate for their rights, and personify the compassion of a Golden Heart. Golden Heart Senior Care Southern Utah, St. George, Cedar City would be happy to assist you or your loved one with in-home care. Please contact us today for more information on how we can help. You’re in Caring Hands With Golden Heart Senior Care Southern Utah.