How Can A Food Borne Illness Affect The Elderly?

STS Food Pathways

It is common knowledge that as a person ages, they become more susceptible to disease and illness. This includes potentially life-threatening infections from food borne illnesses.

Food borne illness can affect anyone; however it is those who are categorised as a ‘vulnerable person’ who are most at risk. This includes the elderly.

As people age their immune system does too. Many older adults may have one or more chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis or cardiovascular disease and might be taking at least one medication. The effect of these medications and/or their health condition can affect their immune systems. Stomach acid, which plays an important part in reducing the number of bacteria in the intestinal tract and the risk of illness, also decreases as people age.

One food borne illness in particular is on the rise among the elderly population. Listeriosis has the highest fatality rate, killing approximately 30 percent of all sufferers.  Over the past decade, there has been a 28 percent increase in the cases of listeriosis within the UK, with Public Health England believing this increase is mainly attributed to a rise in exposure to the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria within the elderly.

If a person is suffering from an infection, they will usually show signs and symptoms such as a fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal problems. Symptoms can increase in severity as the bacteria invade the central nervous systems, heart and eyes – often mimicking that of a stroke. It is highly likely that an elderly person who contracts listeriosis will not survive the infection.

As a healthcare and social care provider for the elderly, it is your responsibility to safeguard the health and safety of your elderly patients and residents.

STS is the leading food safety specialist in healthcare. With over twenty years’ experience working with the NHS and their supply chain as well as private hospitals; you can be assured we are the experts when it comes to protecting your patients from food-borne illness.

For more information on how you can safeguard your patients and reputation, speak to a member of our team today on 01252 728 300.