As we get older, it is normal that our body changes. Many aspects of our body do not work the same way as they did when we were younger. As we get older, changes in our organs and body systems are to be expected. Oftentimes these changes make food safety more important in independent living, because they make us more susceptible to contracting food poisoning or a foodborne illness.
Some of the different ways that seniors are often affected is that their sense of taste or smell may be altered, their bodies cannot get rid of toxins as easily, and their intestinal tract and stomach holds onto foods for a longer period of time.
Another issue is that many seniors will be diagnosed with one (or more than one) chronic conditions by the time that they reach 65. This means that they often take at least one medication to combat the effects of cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, or diabetes. Oftentimes these medications will weaken the immune system, making seniors more susceptible to these issues.
Guidelines For Safe Food Handling
Especially when seniors want to continue with independent living, food safety is of vital importance. These are a few different factors that you want to take into consideration:
- Freeze or refrigerate all perishable – It is a good idea to use a refrigerator/freezer thermometer to ensure that that the temperatures are correct rather than relying on the appliances themselves. You want freezer temperature at 0 °F or below; and refrigerator temperature at 40 °F or below
- Wash your hands – When preparing foods, it is important to wash your hands with warm soapy water. After coming into contact with raw meat and poultry, it is important to wash cutting boards, utensils, and hands; this is going to help prevent cross contamination.
- Never thaw food at room temperature – It is important to thaw food in a microwave, cold water, or the refrigerator. Cook the food immediately after thawing in the microwave or in cold water.
- Cook raw meat, poultry, and fish thoroughly – Especially for seniors, food safety is about checking internal temperatures. Make sure that when you are cooking, you have the oven at 325 °F or higher or have a constant heat source.
As you can see, there are many different things to take into consideration. That is just one of the reasons that many families prefer their loved one in the professional care of people who can help with meal preparation.