The challenge of proper handwashing is the same for the youth as it is for older adults. The difference is when older adults fail to practice good handwashing, they are at greater risk for illness, disease and death. It is known that as the body ages, the immune system weakens. Therefore, the elderly should frequently wash their hands to remove microorganisms and to help control the spread of infections.Older adults should use soap and water to properly clean their hands every time it warrants and for 20 seconds using proper handwashing techniques.
Steps for Proper Handwashing
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following steps for handwashing the elderly can also practice to protect their health:
Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply the soap
Lather hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of the hands, between the fingers, and under the nails
Scrub the hands for at least 20 seconds
Rinse the hands well under running water
Dry the hands using a clean towel or air dry them
Cleaning hands with soap and water is determined the most effective way to prevent many diseases and conditions.
When to Wash
Simple Health Education recommends that older adults wash their hands particularly after using the bathroom; before eating; before and after treating a cut or wound or changing bandages; before, during, and after preparing food; before and after caring for someone who is sick; before touching the eyes, nose, or mouth; after changing diapers; after blowing the nose, coughing, or sneezing; after touching an animal or animal waste; after handling garbage; and after touching hospital surfaces.
While it remains unknown the actual number of people who become ill from not practicing proper handwashing, it is known that using soap and water reduces the risks of the flu, the common cold, diarrheal illnesses, intestinal illnesses, foodborne illnesses, and respiratory illnesses.
Good Hand Hygiene
If soap and water are not available to clean hands, there are other options. Good hand hygiene is simply the cleaning of hands using proper techniques the right way and at suitable times in order to kill germs and prevent the spread of infections. The use of alcohol-based hard sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol is recommended by industry experts in the fight against illness and disease.
Steps for Good Hand Hygiene
To clean hands using hand sanitizers, older adults should:
Healthy Hands, Healthy Lives
Simple Health Education helps older adults to live healthier and longer. Older adults should wash their hands frequently to protect their health. Encourage them to be direct when being cared for by health care providers by insisting that providers practice proper handwashing techniques and good hand hygiene to protect them from infections. Handwashing and good hand hygiene are everyone’s concern and are important steps to preventing illness and spreading germs.