Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Five Caregiving Problems Relating To Elders Storing Outdated or Spoiled Food

Elderly seniors who grew up during the depression learned to be careful about throwing anything away, and sometimes this pertains to food too. Elders suffering from Alzheimer's or Dementia often have food in the fridge, freezer and cabinets that is spoiled or outdated, and they may still be consuming this food. Here are five common scenarios I've seen and how to solve the problems.

1. LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVING AND FOOD. Sometimes a long distance caregiver has a system for neighbors and local communitiy resources to check regularly on an elderly senior who still lives alone. The senior may not wish to ask for help or to be a burden to anyone, and may offer false reassurances.

Checking to see if someone needs any urgent medical help may not be in-depth enough to see if the food supply is low, or if the food is outdated, or spoiling.

It's important to have a someone check to see if help is needed to clean out the spoiled food, throw away the outdated containers, and throw out the old canned food. A hired caregiver or housekeeper can come in once a week or so to help. There may also be a need for someone to assist with providing fresh groceries regularly.

2. FAMILY CAREGIVERS UNAWARE OF PROBLEM. Often family caregivers living nearby may stop in regularly and everything may appear to be fine. An elderly senior may say he or she does not need anything and be reluctant to ask for help.

But, dwindling grocery supplies can lead to keeping outdated food and even eating food that has spoiled. Unless someone actually checks the fridge containers and shelves it can be hard to tell there is a situation developing. Bringing a food gift or treat can be an excuse to look in the fridge and see if it needs to be cleaned out.

3. FRESH PACKAGED MEALS, SUCH AS MEALS ON WHEELS SPOIL QUICKLY. A check on the fridge may show there are "meals on wheels" in their styrofoam containers, or other container meals, that are a week old or more.

A person with Alzheimer's or Dementia may lose track of the time and keep the food containers to pick over slowly for snacks and mini-meals. It's important to check for these old containers and throw them out.

4. OPENED FREEZER MEALS MAY HAVE FROST AND FREEZER BURN. Elderly seniors with Alzheimer's or Dementia may repeatedly put opened meals back into the freezer, thinking this is safer than using the fridge compartment. But old food repeatedly re-frozen, opened containers, and freezer burn are problems.

It's important to check the freezer for outdated food that needs to be thrown out. Some of it may have been repeatedly microwaved, with a portion eaten, then refrozen.

5. CANNED FOOD IN CABINETS CAN BE OUTDATED. Although canned food lasts a long time, there is still always a date on the can to say when it will be outdated. "Better if used by...." It's time consuming to dig way back into deep storage in the kitchen cabinets but spoiled or outdated food may be found here too.

Perhaps, as mentioned above, a gift of food can be an excuse for a family member or friend to check the cabinets without offending.

No comments: