I stop by three times a week to check on Mom, bring her a few meals, and help her with cleaning or anything else with which she needshelp. When I put her casserole into the bottom shelf the other day, it hit me that her fridge really needed some TLC. Does your loved one let the refrigerator get a little out of hand? I thought of a few ideas to share with you.
First of all, the number one rule of safety in refrigeration is accurate temperature. Mom’s fridge has a dial at the top with numbers from one to five; it’s not set to the most exacting standards. So, I stopped in at the store that afternoon and picked up a thermometer that can suction to the inner side of the fridge. Thermometers that hang from wire shelves exist as well. If the refrigerator is not a newer model, it’s not a bad idea to have two thermometers – one near the top and one at the bottom – just so you know the temperature is regulated in all areas.
The inside of the refrigerator should stay between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Monitor the temperature for a few days and make sure the readings are cold enough; if not, you’ll know that you need to adjust the dial.
Though Mom liked to keep her half gallon of milk in the door of her refrigerator, I found that it was a few degrees colder on the bottom shelf, so I moved things around a bit. Meats and leftovers I kept on the bottom shelf; jarred foods like pickles I left on the door. It’s a good idea to keep fresh vegetables and fruits in their crisper drawers, as these tend to regulate humidity and will keep produce fresh longer. (Did you know that you can save space and keep celery lasting much longer if you cut the tops and bottoms off, wrap the loose stalks first in a damp paper towel, then in foil?)
If you keep the temperature well-regulated, leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator safely for up to 4 days. I like to use glass dishes with re-sealable lids (like these or these) and write the date that the food inside should be disposed of on the outside of the container with a dry-erase marker. That way I don’t have to worry about Mom accidentally eating something that could make her sick.
We have so many concerns when our loved ones are aging. These are just a few ideas that have helped Mom and I out so I don’t worry as much about her and can extend the time she’s able to safely stay in her own home.