Hand Hygiene Tips for Seniors in Retirement Communities
Published on May 21, 2021
Good hygiene starts with your hands. After all, your hands are like the gateway into the world. You use them to touch, hold, push, pull, and pick things up. In the past, you probably never thought twice about touching something out in public and then scratching an itch on your face. But now all of that has changed.
Proper hand hygiene has always been important, but in light of recent events, it’s become the focal point of preventing the spread of diseases and viruses, especially in settings where people from different households spend time together, such as condominiums and retirement communities. This article outlines some thorough handwashing and hand hygiene tips for seniors to promote good healthy habits and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Importance of Handwashing for Seniors
Nowadays, hand sanitizing stations are a common site in retirement communities. That’s not an accident—it’s done by design. Those hand sanitizing stations are strategically placed to encourage Team Members, Community Members, and visitors to sanitize their hands frequently. They’re usually stationed next to elevators, entryways, public bathrooms, and even outside of seniors’ living quarters for good measure.
Hands are the vehicle that we use to do everything from greeting people to touching and lifting items. Since they are more likely to come into contact with objects and other people, they’re the most prone to spreading disease. For that reason alone, it’s important for seniors living in retirement communities to practice effective handwashing and sanitizing techniques recommended by healthcare professionals.
How Germs Spread on Hands
Approximately 80% of infectious diseases are spread to the mouth, nose, and eyes from contact with the hands. After all, hands are used for all kinds of everyday activities including handling raw foods (meat, poultry), emptying garbage bins, eating, using the bathroom, touching door handles, etc.
Even clean hands can still carry undetectable microscopic germs and dirt that can cause serious illness. That’s why public health professionals are urging retirement communities to ensure that proper handwashing techniques are being utilized at all times.
Key Activities When You Must Wash Your Hands
Frequent handwashing, wearing a mask, avoiding touching your face, and physical distancing are the key ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. How do you know when to wash your hands? There are the obvious occasions that call for handwashing or sanitizing, such as using the bathroom as well as before, during, and after preparing a meal.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the public health advocates, including the CDC, are advising people to wash their hands more frequently than normal. Now, the recommendation is that people should be washing their hands for a number of different reasons. Handwashing is recommended in the following situations:
After making contact with common touchpoints (countertops, door handles, furniture, etc.) in public spaces
Before, during, and after food preparation
Before and after eating food
After returning home from outside
After doing chores around the house
After doing laundry
After throwing out the garbage
After a workout
Before and after treating a wound (to prevent infection)
After doing yard work or gardening
After touching an animal or handling their waste
After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
These are just some of the most common reasons people wash their hands, but there are plenty more that are more specific to each person’s lifestyles and the activities they engage in.
Proper Handwashing Techniques
Handwashing may seem pretty simple. It’s something we’ve been doing all our lives, so we never really think twice about it. However, there are actually a few easy steps that you should follow to ensure that you’re washing your hands as thoroughly as possible.
Most people only spend a few seconds washing their hands after using the bathroom or before and after handling food. The CDC recommends that you spend at least 20 full seconds just lathering soap on your hands.
Here are some easy handwashing steps to follow to ensure you’re doing it right:
Rinse your hands with warm or cold water.
Lather and scrub soap all over your hands. Make sure to massage the soap deep into the creases between your fingers. Do this for about 20 seconds. If it helps, hum or sing Happy Birthday from beginning to end twice while you do this.
Rinse your hands thoroughly under the clean running water.
Dry your hands thoroughly using a clean towel or airdry system.
Hand Hygiene Tips for Seniors to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
COVID-19 can live on different surfaces for varying periods of time. While out in public spaces, it’s important to maintain proper physical distancing from other people and avoid touching certain items unnecessarily. If you do touch several items, then avoid touching your face until you’re able to properly wash or sanitize your hands.
Soap and water may not always be readily available when you’re out in public spaces or outdoors. That’s why retirement communities across Ontario are well equipped with hand sanitizing stations throughout their premises. Make sure to use a good hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol, which also goes by the name ethyl alcohol on some labels.
When applying hand sanitizer, make sure to use the right amount in proportion to your hand size and the amount of dirt on your hands. Hand sanitizer should be thoroughly rubbed into your hands until it’s completely dissolved for maximum efficacy. Avoid using hand sanitizers that contain methanol as this is an active ingredient that can be toxic to humans and animals. Also, avoid directly touching automated hand sanitizer dispensers in public. Simply move your hand under the sensor and the hand sanitizer will be dispensed automatically.
Safe and Healthy Senior Living at V!VA Retirement Communities
Safety and good health are top concerns at V!VA Retirement Communities. We have several locations throughout the province, all of which are dedicated to ensuring the well-being of their Community Members without infringing on their independence. We’ve implemented a strong and effective response to limit and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our retirement communities. Contact us today to find out how we’re making senior living safer one Community Member at a time.