16 Mar Practicing Good Hand Hygiene and Skin Care for Seniors and Caregivers in Philadelphia
Handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid infection from the new coronavirus (covid-19) here in Philadelphia, but many don’t do it very well. Seniors and those with compromised immunity are at greatest risk from the coronavirus.
Caregivers and their loved ones can greatly reduce the potential for virus spread in Pennsylvania by practicing good hand washing practices. However, elders have additional considerations as they are more susceptible to skin dryness, cracking, and irritation.
This article outlines the do’s and don’ts of handwashing for seniors and their caregivers. It also talks about ways to care for sensitive skin of elders that can be impacted by increased hand sanitizing and washing. It will help prevent the spread of not only coronavirus, but other germs that lead to disease and infection that put seniors at risk.
Proper hand-washing technique
Hands are home to all kinds of germs, from bacteria to viruses. Covid-19 is easily spread through the hands. Drops and particles from coughs or sneezes can also spread these germs, along with touching surfaces like doorknobs and phones where those particles may be located.
A large number of people, including seniors and caregivers, don’t practice handwashing technique properly- whether doing it for too little time or not at all. One study shows that only 5 percent of people wash their hands for at least 15 seconds, with 10 percent not washing their hands at all.
For starters, consider time. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Knowing that, follow this simple 4 step process during hand washing:
Step 1: Scrub your palms together in a circular motion
Step 2: Scrub the back of your hands
Step 3: Scrub the inside of your fingers and under your fingernails
Step 4: Scrub between your fingers
Also, remember the acronym of SUDS:
- Soap: Be sure to always use it. It may seem straightforward but in the same handwashing study only ⅔ of people used it. Run water over your hands first before adding soap. The water in combination with the soap lifts bacteria and viruses from your hands and allows them to be wiped away. You don’t need to overdo it, as a half teaspoon is enough when done properly.
- Use sanitizer as a substitute: Hand sanitizer is a great option in absence of soap and water. Make sure to use enough to cover your entire hand. Again, a half teaspoon should be sufficient to do the job. Also, there is no need to use paper towels to dry your hands. Leave it on your hands for at least 10 seconds and then rub your hands together or air dry.
- Dry your hands completely: Be sure to fully dry your hands after washing them. Wet hands can allow germs to survive and be spread.
- Scrub: Washing your hands for 20 seconds is not helpful if you don’t wash in the right places. The most susceptible parts of your hands are your fingertips, between your fingers, the backs of your hands and under your nails. Rubbing these surfaces with enough force is critical, and if you have longer nails you should take extra precautions.
Caring for your skin
With adding or enhancing a proper hand washing and sanitizing routine, the skin may be more vulnerable to drying and cracking as a result. This is particularly true for seniors and elders. Signs of dry skin may be flaking, redness, itching, burning, or cracking.
To treat dry skin in elders at home
Soak your hands in warm water, then apply lotion or cream. It is recommended to use a thinner lotion during the day, and then a thicker lotion for your skin overnight to facilitate deeper skin repair. If cracks or fissures on the hand occur, be sure to cover them up with bandaids. Pay attention for these breaks in the skin for yourself or your loved one as it makes seniors more vulnerable to infection.
To help prevent dry skin
Wear gloves and warm clothing when it is cold out. Wash your hands with warm (not hot) water. Hot water can be irritating to skin and can also add some danger to seniors’ more sensitive skin. Wear rubber gloves when handling cleaning products.
There has been heightened awareness of the importance of handwashing and personal hygiene as a result of the coronavirus. However, these practices are always important to put into play, and preventing bacterial and viral infections, including the flu, are critical for the safety of everyone and seniors who are more vulnerable to the effects of disease.
Home care agencies like Chosen Family provide effective and supportive oversight of hygiene and elder care for those that need a little extra assistance. Rely on senior home care services in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the greater Delaware Valley when caregiving becomes too stressful and to provide you with additional peace of mind.