Proper Hand Hygiene in Seniors

As we age, our immune system weakens, creating more opportunity for infection. While not all germs cause disease, those that do spread illness are commonly spread by our hands. Therefore, hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to guard against germs that contribute to colds and other diseases. Do your part to help prevent the transmission of germs and viruses and practice proper hand hygiene!

How Germs Spread on Hands

Germs can spread on hands in different ways:

  • Handling food
  • Emptying trash
  • Using the toilet
  • Tending a wound
  • Caring for a sick person
  • Handling pets or their waste
  • Coughing or sneezing into hands

When to wash your hands

The most important times for seniors to wash their hands are after using the restroom and after they sneeze, cough, or blow their nose. Seniors should also wash their hands before and after eating and anytime they do any type of cleaning around the house (if they’re able to do household chores). Wash hands often, especially when entering or leaving your loved one’s home. If using tissues, properly dispose of them in the trash, and wash hands immediately after.

How to wash hands

A person should wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, lathering the back of hands, between fingers, and under nails. A good rule of thumb for timing is humming the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. Rinse all sides of the hands under clean, running water in order to remove dirt and microbes that were loosened when scrubbing.

If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer is a good second option. Choose a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to eliminate 99% of germs. Use a similar technique as washing with soap and water, rubbing into palms and over hands for at least 20 seconds. Rubs your hands until they’re dry.

Since older adults are more susceptible to infection, it’s equally important for their caregivers to practice diligent hand hygiene to prevent the spread of germs that may cause disease. Happier at Home prides itself on keeping your loved one safe. You can rely on our Happier at Home caregivers to maintain good hand hygiene to help keep your loved one safe and healthy.