ARTICLES / General /Careful
in the Kitchen /
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
Seniors have always been grouped with the “women
and children” crowd. This has been for good reason;
they are able to catch germs easier and also hold
onto them longer. Age causes changes in a body,
slowing the food digestion process. The stomach and
intestinal tract process foods slower, and a loved
one’s liver and kidneys are slower to rid their body
of toxins. This even alters a person’s sense of
taste and smell. Added to the natural effects
of aging, all chronic illnesses, and medications,
and the unwelcome addition of food poisoning can
become very serious very fast. Vigilance when
handling, preparing and consuming foods is important
for a loved one to have. For caregivers, awareness
and education are crucial.
Are You Sick?
Teaching a loved one when to recognize they are
experiencing a negative reaction to food will help
identify the problem after the fact. First,
caregivers must understand that there is a wide
range of time that can pass between eating food with
harmful bacteria and the onset of symptoms.
Usually, foodborne illness takes one to three
days to develop. The common assumption is that it’s
caused by a person’s last meal. This may be true,
but not necessarily. There are many factors to
consider, including the type of bacteria which was
in the affected food. The range of time could be
from 20 minutes to 6 weeks, at extreme
circumstances. Even then, it’s possibly a different
illness. Some common symptoms of food poisoning are
feeling sick to the stomach, vomiting or diarrhea.
Others could be flu-like, including a fever as well
as head and body aches. Professionals suggest a
caregiver check with their loved one’s doctor if
they suspect food is to blame for an illness.
It used to be all foods were grown at home.
Today’s younger generations are trying to return to
a semblance of that lifestyle; but for most, climate
and convenience will never leave them completely
independent for all food. Many elderly loved ones
will remember the days gone by when they ate the
same potato they dug the hole in the ground for and
planted months prior. There was no need to worry
about exactly where food came from. Because of this,
a loved one may have a greater trust for food than
the rest of society, or greater distrust.