ELIZABETH, NJ – “Should you save or toss pizza left on the counter overnight?” Nutrition Consultant Corey Wu asked the group in front of her at the Stephen Sampson Community Center today, May 11.

The answer was a resounding, “Toss!” coming from the audience from Peterstown, Bayway, and Sampson community centers, at the Senior Safety Day. Wu was one of two speakers participating in Senior Safety Day, a program of Lifelong Elizabeth. Kathleen McMahon, RN, BSN, with the Older Adult Division of Jewish Family Services, spoke about how to avoid falling. The

Lifelong Elizabeth, a program of Jewish Family Services of Central New Jersey, is described as “a community led, city endorsed initiative that aims to make our city an age-friendly community that is a great place to grow up and grow old.”

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“So many are doing good work with the aging, and what we are trying to do is bring information together in one place as well as introducing new initiatives,” explained Jill Dispenza, Lifelong’s project manager. The program focuses on four goals: communication and information, transportation, safety in the home, and safety in outdoor spaces.

Yesterday’s speakers concentrated on avoiding falls and promoting food safety. McMahon shared the following tips on staying upright. She advised to take time in getting up from a chair, hold on to something while doing that, look where you are going, and look down so not to trip over an objects on the floor. Furthermore, she recommended adequate lighting, removing area rugs, and having access to emergency response.

Finally, McMahon said, “If the shoes don’t fit, don’t wear them. Flip-flops are good for 16-year-olds, not for you.”

Throw out leftovers after four days and food should be left out for only two hours, advised Wu, who shared tips on food safety. Cutting boards should be washed in hot, soapy water, and food should always be refrigerated to cut down on bacteria growth. Hot foods should be allowed to cool for 20 minutes before being placed in the refrigerator. Hot food in large pots should be transferred to shallow containers. Meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, poultry to 165 degrees, but ground beef, because it is processed, should be cooked to 160 degrees. Hands should be washed frequently.

“Through Lifelong Elizabeth, we are trying to outreach throughout the city about the services and programs offered, not only by our agency, but by other organizations as well, to let people know about our services and the other wonderful services that are available, ” said Thomas Beck, executive director of Jewish Family Services of Central New Jersey.

These programs focusing on older adults are becoming more and more pertinent. Said Renie Carniol, director of the Grotta Fund for Senior Care who supplied the funding for Lifelong Elizabeth, “Watching the changing demographics and increasing older population, we want to make sure our towns and communities are safe for older adults that they are safe, and we address the critical issues of health, social isolation, and food insecurity.”  

The next Senior Safety Day for O’Donnell-Dempsey and Liberty Center Community Centers, which will be in Spanish, is scheduled for May 16 from 9 to 11:30 p.m.

For more information about Lifelong Elizabeth, contact Jill Dispenza at 908-666-7033.