Community Blog

Why Frequent Hand Washing Is Essential When Providing Senior Care

By Patti Soisson

Seniors are typically more susceptible to infections and illness due to weakened immune systems. Germs are passed readily from various surfaces to the hands, which is why it is important for seniors and caregivers to adopt proper hand washing techniques. Even though washing hands may seem like something everyone knows how to do, many people do not know how to wash thoroughly. It is also easy to underestimate how frequently hands should be washed throughout the day by every senior and caregiver.


When to Wash Hands

While washing hands after using the restroom is important, hands should be washed much more frequently than that. Caregivers should wash in all of the following scenarios:


  • After blowing their nose
  • After touching any dirty surface
  • Before and after handling food
  • After transferring or showering a loved one
  • Before and after dressing a wound
  • After changing bed linens or soiled clothing
  • After sneezing or coughing
  • After touching their face or hair
  • After removing disposable gloves


A senior does not usually need to wash as frequently as a caregiver because seniors usually don’t touch as many things throughout the day. However, they should wash their hands after the following:


  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Using the restroom
  • Blowing their nose
  • Before and after eating
  • After cleaning


Seniors may need to be reminded when it’s time to wash their hands. They may also need help thoroughly washing and drying their hands.


Tips for Proper Hand Washing

When it comes to washing your hands, it is just as important to know how to do it as it is to know when to do it. Many people make the mistake of thinking they can adequately remove germs by simply rinsing with water or by scrubbing with soap for just a few seconds. However, improper hand washing can fail to remove germs adequately from the hands and can assist in the spread of infection and illness when providing senior care. Here are a few simple tips for proper hand washing:


  • Apply an adequate amount of soap to the hands
  • Wash for at least 20 seconds, cleaning all surfaces of the hands
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water
  • Dry with a clean towel


You can also use hand sanitizer if you need to quickly sanitize your hands and do not have access to soap and water. When sanitizing, use enough to clean the entire hands, then rub your hands together until they are dry. Be sure to clean in between the fingers as well.


Learn More

Seniors deserve to receive thoughtful, thorough attention from their caregivers. For more tips about proper senior care or for information about how to receive home help services for yourself or a loved one, contact Home Helpers® today.