Four Steps To Good Hygiene For Senior Living Residents

Older adults, especially those over the age of 80, are most susceptible to complications that arise from contracting the flu or other viruses such as COVID-19. That’s why it is essential that all people—both residents and staff—at a senior living community practice excellent hygiene, not just now but all year long. Here are tips from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on how to protect yourself and others from infectious disease.

Thoroughly Wash Your Hands Frequently
This is the most important thing you can do! Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Sing the Happy Birthday song twice in your head (or out loud) or recite the ABCs—that’s approximately how long 20 seconds takes. It’s even more important to wash your hands after you have touched an item in a public place such as a doorknob, countertop, desk, etc. And of course wash after you sneeze, cough or blow your nose.

If you don’t have access to soap and water immediately, put a dollop of hand sanitizer in your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Your hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol to be most effective.

If you haven’t washed your hands recently, avoid touching your face–especially your eyes, nose and mouth.

Cover Coughs And Sneezes
Ideally, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Then throw it away in the trash right away. If a tissue isn’t handy, don’t cough or sneeze into your hand—which many people have been taught to do—cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow. Either way, wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds or clean them with hand sanitizer immediately after.

Practice Social Distancing
Basically, that’s the new phrase for avoiding close contact with others. It’s always prudent to keep your distance from anyone who shows signs of illness—cough, congestion, sneezing. But with the contagiousness of COVID-19, you should be even more diligent. Avoid gatherings. Limit contact such as hand shakes, hugs or touching one another. And try to stay at least six feet away from people.

During peak flu season or during an outbreak, choose activities you can do alone or in a small group such as puzzles, reading or watching television. Remember, you can still stay connected to family and friends thanks to technology. FaceTime or Live Chat with someone. Catch up with others on social media. Or, go old school: make a phone call or write a letter.

Do More Than Surface Clean—Disinfect
While senior living communities have staff to regularly clean public areas, residents and family members can step up cleanliness in their own apartments or rooms. Use soap and water or disinfectant wipes on frequently touched surfaces such as tables, door handles, light switches, railings, phones, keyboards, faucets, sinks, and of course toilets. Wipe surfaces down several times a day. And scrub the entire surface until it’s wet and let it dry naturally on its own.

Overall, the best way to combat complications from a virus is to take precautions to reduce your risk of being infected in the first place. Following these CDC guidelines is a good starting point for protecting yourself and others.

St. Catherine’s Village, which has a stellar reputation for implementing strategies to detect and limit respiratory viruses such as influenza, is strictly following all new CDC guidance to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. Creating and maintaining a protective environment is a natural extension of the mission at St. Catherine’s Village, which is to provide with God’s help, a healing and spiritual presence for each other and for the communities we are privileged to serve.