When your loved one becomes a resident at a nursing home, you trust the home to take care of your loved one’s needs. You rely on the home to provide proper treatment. You expect them to give medication at the correct times. Finally, you believe they will help your loved one with basic tasks such as dressing, walking, and even eating. The food that we eat can have a serious impact on our health. A balanced diet can improve your immune system and health. But, poorly prepared food can have a negative affect on your loved one. Carelessness in a nursing home can lead to food contamination. This could make your loved one and other residents sick. To learn more about food poisoning in nursing homes, read on.

What is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning occurs when a person eats food that gets contaminated. Contamination can occur from a virus, bacteria, parasite, or some other toxin. Food can become contaminated by an infectious organism at any time. But, when food gets prepared and cooked properly, the food is not contaminated. If food is contaminated, the person who eats the food may get affected in a negative way. Common food poisoning symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Cramps.

These symptoms may occur as soon as a few hours after eating contaminated food. Or, it can take up to day or even weeks for these symptoms to occur.

Food Poisoning and the Elderly

Food poisoning will generally last between a few hours to a few days. In most cases, a visit to the doctor is not necessary. But, for the elderly or in the case of severe food poisoning, contacting a doctor is a good idea.

Elderly people can get affected to a more serious degree than other people due to their age. The elderly tend to have weakened immune systems. This can make the attack of food poisoning more aggressive in their systems. Also, elderly people tend to have less stomach acid than younger people. This it more difficult for them to keep bacteria levels under control. An elderly person with weakened kidneys may also have a serious case of food poisoning. This is because it is the kidney’s job to filter bacteria.

Food Poisoning Prevention

Food poisoning is not inevitable. It can get prevented by proper food preparation. It is important that the cooking staff in a nursing home gets trained to properly:

  • Refrigerate food to prevent spoilage.
  • Wash food to remove dirt, pesticides, bacteria, etc.
  • Separate food to prevent cross contamination, for example, separating meat from vegetables.
  • Cook food. It should make sure that the internal temperature is at a level that is safe for consumption. This is particularly true for meat.
  • Throw food away when it has gone bad or has gotten contaminated.

Your loved one can also prevent food poisoning by being alert to the food that they eat in the home. Encourage your loved one to use their senses to determine if food is safe to eat or not. For example, if food is far off from the color that it is supposed to be, your loved one shouldn’t eat it. If it smells rancid, or if it has a slimy or undercooked texture, encourage your loved one to ask for other food. This can prevent food poisoning issues and contamination.

If your loved one got food poisoning after eating in a nursing home, the home might be responsible. Neglect or poor training could be the fault of the staff members and the nursing home itself.