Promoting National Handwashing Awareness Week in your assisted living community
Did you hear the joke about the germ? Never mind. We don’t want to spread it around! Handwashing is no joke at Paradise Living Centers when it comes to preventing the spreading of germs and keeping our staff and residents healthy. National Handwashing Awareness Week, which is the first week of December, is an important time to reestablish and promote consistent handwashing.
We’re taught at a young age that washing our hands regularly is an essential part of avoiding illness. However, these hygiene habits can slip as we get older, especially when issues with memory loss begin to surface. The consequence can become a danger to our health and to those that are most vulnerable to catching viruses.
As we age, it becomes harder for the body to fight viruses. We become more susceptible for a variety of reasons, including a decreased amount of antibodies and white blood cells. According to the CDC, up to 20 percent of respiratory infections can be prevented with adequate handwashing. Respiratory infections, like colds, can worsen within seniors and develop into serious cases of pneumonia or other issues.
Our group homes are clean and well maintained and caregivers make sure our residents know the importance of handwashing. Caregivers also wear gloves for certain tasks and will wash their hands frequently to limit the transfer of germs.
The changes in season and stress can make people increasingly vulnerable to illness during winter. Follow these simple tips when you are visiting your loved ones this holiday season to help keep your family healthy:
Wash your hands before and after caring for someone who is sick.
When someone is ill their immune system is weakened and they are more susceptible to common viruses. The difference between a whole family being sick or healthy could be up to your handwashing. Thoroughly wash your hands in warm water for at least 20 seconds and be sure to get under your fingernails and between your fingers too!
Keep hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes accessible
It is not always possible to wash with soap and water when you need to. Keep hand sanitizer in your bag or car and be sure to use it even if you don’t think your hands look dirty. It’s also important to regularly sanitize door handles, cell phones and remotes with disinfectants like antibacterial wipes—something we practice regularly at Paradise Living Centers.
Don’t sneeze or cough into your hands.
It can be natural to cover your mouth when you cough, but it is better to use your sleeve to keep your hands germ-free. This is especially important when you’re around seniors or those that are sick. You can also use a tissue and immediately wash or sanitize your hands. Just one sneeze can infect an entire room for hours–even if you don’t think that you’re sick.
One of the biggest culprits for spreading germs is in the bathroom where surfaces, faucets and door handles are easily contaminated. Washing your hands after coming into contact with these objects is important, especially when you live with or care for someone elderly. In honor of National Handwashing Awareness Week, we urge everyone to remember those early lessons from Mom to wash your hands.