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How To Keep Seniors Healthy Through Handwashing

How to Keep Seniors Healthy Through Handwashing

Handwashing is the number one way to stop the spread of disease and infection. It may seem too simple to be true but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that the simple act of handwashing is the most effective way to stop the spread of infection and illness throughout any society. It is such a critically important issue that the CDC has sought out international partners to launch multiple campaigns on the importance of handwashing and how to do it correctly. Some of the partners include the United States Agency for International Development, The Global Hygiene Council and the The Center for Global Safe WASH.

Germs are easily transmitted from the hands to the body, transporting illness and disease along with them.  When germs are on our hands and then we rub our eyes, nose, mouth or pick up something to eat, the germs get into our bodies. The CDC estimates that the average person touches his or her eyes, nose and mouth about 25 times every hour.

As a caregiver, you can help to keep your loved one and yourself healthy by practicing safe hand washing. Get in the practice of washing your hands with hand sanitizer every time you go in and out of a store, the subway, the movies, and the supermarket. Get in the habit of washing your hands every time you enter the house, to wash away the germs you have picked up while running your errands, going to dinner or visiting with friends. Hand sanitizers work just as well as soap, although soap is more effective if your hands are actually dirty.

Other important times to wash your hands include the following:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

According to the CDC, here is the most effective way to wash your hands:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, your thumbs and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

You and your loved one can watch a video on how to properly wash your hands.

Millions of germs are transmitted into the body from the hands. If you are caring for a frail loved one with a compromised immune system, hand washing is the most important defense against illness. It may seem like a simple thing to do, but is the most highly effective strategy to keep your loved one’s health as strong as possible.


If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.