It may be hard to believe, but cold and flu season is about to be upon us. For elderly adults, this time of year can be very dangerous as they are very vulnerable to infection due to weakened immune systems. In addition, if they suffer from chronic illnesses or have other health issues, they could be at risk for very serious complications from colds and the flu such as pneumonia. There are many ways caregivers can help their elderly loved ones protect themselves from cold and flu viruses such as being sure that they get their flu shot every year, keeping them away from others who are sick, and keeping the home clean. But, one of the most important ways to protect your loved one from getting sick is by making sure that they wash their hands regularly and being sure that you do so, too. Appropriately, September 18-24 is International Clean Hands Week, a time to brush up on proper hand washing just before cold and flu season begins. During this week, take the time to think about yours and your loved one’s hand washing habits and see if you can improve them. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind:
Scrub for 20 Seconds
A quick rinse may not be enough to kill the germs on your loved one’s hands. The CDC recommends scrubbing with soap and warm water for a total of 20 seconds before rinsing. This is the same amount of time that it would take to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
Know When to Wash
Hand washing should occur throughout the day. Remind your loved to always wash hands before eating, after using the bathroom, before and after preparing food, after touching the trash, after caring for a pet (petting, feeding, or cleaning up after), after coughing, sneezing, or blowing the nose, and after caring for a cut or a wound. Use common sense and encourage your loved one to wash their hands any time you think that they may have been exposed to germs.
Use Sanitizers as a Last Resort
The best way to eliminate germs from hands is by washing hands with warm soapy water and scrubbing for 20 seconds. While hand sanitizers can be found every where from public restrooms, gyms, and grocery stores, they are not as effective as an alternative. However, when a hand washing sink and soap is no where in sight, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers can still be much better than using nothing at all.
For caregivers in Cherry Hill, NJ and the surrounding areas, call and talk to us at Home to Stay Healthcare Solutions (856) 321-1500.