The Importance of Hand Washing for Seniors
Posted December 27, 2016

In December the CDC, along with the health care industry, brings awareness to the importance of hand washing as a way to decrease your risk for getting sick. Senior Living Experts wants to remind you of the importance of clean hands for both you and those you are in contact with daily.

Hand Washing is Important to Those in senior living facilities

No matter what type of senior living facility you may live in, it’s important that everyone there be aware of the importance of washing their hands regularly. Seniors’ immune systems weaken with age; even if you are otherwise healthy and live a healthy lifestyle.

  • Ask – Ask your caregiver and senior living personnel to please wash their hands if they haven’t done so. It’s important that they practice washing their hands before and after touching you or common areas as a way to reduce spreading of germs.
  • Housekeeping – If you live in a senior care facility where you have housekeeping offered or done for you, ask them to be sure to clean the surfaces every time they come. This includes wiping all counters, cleaning floors, kitchen, and bathroom with a germ killing cleaner. This AARP article addresses all natural, germ killing cleaners and techniques.
  • Nature’s Vaccine Companion – We recently discussed the importance of seniors being vaccinated for the flu and even pneumonia. However, combined with getting your vaccines that are recommended, washing your hands is the perfect companion to helping kill the germs that cause the flu, colds, stomach viruses, and respiratory viruses.
  • Dining/Eating – It’s extremely important that the proper food preparation techniques are used when making your food. You should also always wash your hands before eating anything.

Proper Hand Hygiene

Whether you live in senior housing, are in a healthcare facility, or living at home with a caregiver to help you there are some basics they should know.

5 Moments for Hand Hygiene

When you are a part of a health care scenario it’s important to understand the times when hand washing is most important. According to John Hopkins these are the 5 moments when it’s important for seniors or anyone that lives in a healthcare facility of any type.

  1. When you enter the room (apartment) and when you leave
  2. Before and after using gloves
  3. Before and after touching any equipment (especially used equipment)
  4. After performing anything invasive or that involves bodily fluids
  5. Before and after transporting someone from one area to another

Using a hand sanitizer is not the same as properly washing your hands; however, it can be used when hand washing is not an option. This information about when and how to use hand sanitizer is very helpful.

Wash Your Hands Right

hand washing photo

There are some basic rules to follow when washing your hands. Use these techniques for the most effective way of killing germs.

According to the CDC this is the right way to wash your hands.

  1. Wet Your Hands – You can use warm or cold water. Wet your hands and apply soap. (This article from TIME Magazine discusses the newest findings on using anti-bacterial soap)
  2. Lather – Rub your hands together to lather them up. Be sure to lather the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. (Use a nail brush to ensure you get under your nails for a good cleaning!)
  3. Scrub for 20 Seconds – Don’t rush scrubbing your hands. Sing or hum “Happy Birthday” two times to make sure you scrub long enough.
  4. Rinse – Rinse your hands in running water with your fingers pointing downward for the final end of the rinsing. This technique helps to ensure that the soap and germs run off.
  5. Dry – Dry your hands with a paper towel, air drier, or use a clean hand towel. The Mayo Clinic published research that shows using disposable paper towels is the most sanitary way to dry your hands.

Senior Living Experts joins the nation this month as we recognize the importance of hand washing as another way to live a healthier lifestyle.


Photo 1 by red.raleigh
Photo 2 by Pezibear (Pixabay)

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