As we age our immune systems weaken, making it harder to fight off bacteria and serious illness. Acid in the stomach decreases which inhibits the control of bacteria and the kidneys weaken, which means that bacteria is not filtered from the blood effectively.
The major issue for the elderly is that once a foodborne illness is contracted, the ensuing infections can not only be difficult to treat but can also recur. Many of the common foodborne illnesses possess symptoms similar to those of a virus, that is nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. These symptoms are particularly dangerous for the elderly in that they can lead to dehydration which, in severe cases, can prove to be fatal.
The following are ten basic guidelines to help prevent foodborne illness amongst the elderly :
· Have a thermometer handy – make sure that you have a good food thermometer. 5 – 60 degrees celsius is considered the temperature danger zone for foodborne illness – bacteria thrive in this zone.
· Raise the temperature – all foods should be reheated to 75 degrees celsius
· Be wary of best foods – foods should not be left outside for more than one hour
· Turn up the heat – food needs to be cooked to proper temperatures
· Cool it off properly – it is important to store food at the appropriate temperature and your fridge should be set to 5 degrees celsius
· Wash up – it is vital that you wash your hands before, during and after preparing a meal with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. This simple procedure may eliminate almost half of all foodborne illness cases
· Keep it clean – raw meats must be kept separate from other foods in order to prevent cross-contamination
· Keep cold foods cold – foods must be thawed in the fridge, under cold running water or in the microwave immediately prior to cooking
· Pay attention to the date – perishable foods must be refrigerated the moment you get home from the shops. Consume products by the “use-by” dates on the package
· For safety’s sake : foods to avoid – there are many foods that are risky for the elderly to eat. Some meats that are raw or undercooked and dairy products or juices that are unpastuerised pose a high risk for the elderly. Foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs also pose a huge risk to them
Source : Caring.com