Aging has always been a natural and inevitable part of life. As we age, our bodies will experience various changes, especially when it comes to our physical strength and mental fortitude. While making fundamental lifestyle changes can help stave off the signs of aging, we also have to ensure that we prepare healthy and well-balanced food to keep our performance in peak condition.
But other than just drastic changes to our physical and mental health, our body’s immune system won’t have the same “immunity” that it once had. Most older adults have to be careful of food-borne illnesses since this can cause serious health complications if not addressed.
This is one of the main reasons why most individuals need to be aware of the shelf life of different types of food, storing them, handling them, then preparing them for safe consumption for seniors.
Foodborne Illnesses and Their Causes
But before we can get into how we can prepare meals for the elderly, we have to first determine the cause of most food-related illnesses in the first place. Being able to narrow down the roots of food poisoning and foodborne illness can help address the problem head-on. ;
So what causes it? Well, this usually happens when a person starts consuming food that’s contaminated with either parasite or disease-causing microbes. This can happen due to the following reasons:
- Food is inappropriately handled
- Improper storage can lead to the growth of molds or accelerated expiration
- Food was not cooked and prepared adequately
In most cases, food that has already been cooked will have an extremely limited shelf life, which means if that it’s left out for too long, this could lead to food poisoning. It’s also worth noting that food can be contaminated right before eating, which can prompt food poisoning. ;
What Makes the Elderly More Prone to Foodborne Diseases?
When food poisoning happens, most younger individuals can recover in a short amount of time without facing any serious health complications. However, many elderly folks will have an immune system that’s weakened, which makes them more prone to different types of infections and chronic diseases.
The general rule of thumb used by health experts is that the body can become more vulnerable to food poisoning or any septic infection as they grow older. Physiologically, food stays longer in the person’s digestive system as they grow older, which means that there’s more time for bacteria that’s present in food to proliferate and spread to the body.
In addition to having more time for pathogens to grow in the body, the stomach won’t produce the same amount of stomach acids that it needs to digest food, which can also kill microbes.
In most cases, food poisoning can cause dehydration, which can be a problem among seniors since their livers and kidneys don’t function well. A combination of these factors can often lead to severe complications that need to be addressed as soon as possible.
Preventing Food Poisoning
Luckily, food poisoning can be easily prevented. Here are some ways that you can prevent food poisoning by lowering the risks.
Although there are many ways to prevent food poisoning, it’s also important to have food prepared by professionals who are well-versed in taking care of seniors and their nutritional needs. Fortunately, senior care services are known for helping with grocery shopping and meal preparation, among a plethora of other services that can make the lives of older adults easier.
Almost all types of meat, shellfish, and vegetables will need a thorough cleaning. Raw meat should be cleaned at all times, while those handling vegetables will need to use a different chopping board to avoid any cross-contamination. As always, hands should be washed before cooking.
It’s essential to cook food thoroughly and at the right temperature. If you’re in doubt that the food that you’ve cooked isn’t cooked “enough,” then there’s no hurt in cooking it for a while longer. This is by far the best way of reducing the likelihood of infection. Cooked food should be eaten as soon as possible, preferably when it’s still warm.
If there is leftover food, it should be placed inside the refrigerator immediately. This type of food should be heated appropriately or cooked again before consumption. It’s also important to note that food that has been thawed should not be refrozen again.
Preparing seniors’ food can be challenging, especially when they have more sensitive stomachs and a weaker immune system, but it is possible. It’s important that you take the time needed in cooking and preparing food. After all, safety should always be the first priority in any situation.