An important reminder during flu season

Ever wondered why some people get grossed out when you have a runny nose and try to shake their hand?  Watch Adam Savage in action!  This is especially important to think about if you’re working with someone who has a compromised immune system.

 

Fire danger season –

At this time of many fires spreading across much of the US, I thought I would send out an extra message to those of you who care for seniors.  Even if you aren’t in direct line of one of the fires the smoke can travel for miles causing air quality to drop.

When wildfire smoke becomes thick in the atmosphere there are several groups of people who are affected by the contaminated air.  One of these groups of people are seniors.

As we age our lung capacity diminishes and for many seniors the wildfire smog puts them is serious danger for respiratory problems, including pneumonia.

As best as possible keep your senior indoors when smoke is heavily in the air.

If you find that your home isn’t sealed well against drafts try some simple and cheap ways to temporarily seal up the areas allowing smokey air into your home.

The usual areas for air leaking from outside to inside are around doors and windows.

A damp bath towel along the base of any door leading outside will help stop and filter airflow.  A damp sheet tacked around a window sill will filter airflow around the window casing.

If there is no avoiding a trip outdoors for your senior, encourage them to wear a mask while out of doors.  The best style of mask for this is referred to as a N95 – other types of masks will not filter out the fine particulates found in forest fire smoke.

If your senior starts showing any signs of respiratory distress, do not hesitate to contact their doctor and get them into seek medical help.

Good Gloving for our family

Sometimes people wonder why they need to wear gloves while performing personal care on a family member.  They think that because they are dealing with a family member and not a stranger that general PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as gloves aren’t necessary.

The truth of the matter is wearing gloves while providing personal care on a family member is very important to protect your family member from getting preventable infections that could lead to extended hospitalizations or premature death.

In case you’re wondering what I mean by personal care, I’ll let you know.  Personal care includes;

  • bathing
  • assisting with toileting
  • perineal cleaning (the perineal area is the groin and anus)
  • changing adult briefs
  • wound care
  • applying skin lotions and creams

Let’s face it, if your family member needs you to perform personal care for them that means their health is poor, and their immune system is most likely compromised.  There are bacteria everywhere that a healthy person (with a healthy immune system) can defend against, but your family member (with a weakened immune system) cannot.

So, let’s start with the basics.  Wash your hands, often.  Before performing personal care, when preparing food, and after doing these tasks.  This includes washing your hands after handling raw meats before handling anything else.  Also you need to wash any surfaces or utensils used with the raw meat before using them for anything else.  (Yes, by washing I mean using soap and warm water, not just a quick rinse of water.)

When providing personal care, wear gloves.  If you’ve just finished cleaning their perineal area and need to do other care (such as wound care or applying lotions or creams to the body) put on a clean pair of gloves between tasks.  This may seem excessive, but it will prevent the spreading of contaminants from urine or bowel (feces) to other parts of the body.

Click here for a good video showing the proper way to remove medical exam style gloves without getting anything on yourself.

So, what are these terrible diseases I’m talking about?

  • E. Coli – which can cause urinary tract infections and diarrhea
  • Streptococci – which can cause wound infections that may lead to sepsis (a severe reaction to infection throughout the whole body) and death
  • Clostridium difficile (often referred to as C. diff) – severe diarrhea, colitis and death
  • Mycobacterium – tuberculosis
  • Staphylococcus – skin boils, pneumonia, endocarditis (inflammation of the sack around the heart), sepsis, death
  • Candida – causes what is commonly referred to as a yeast infection which can be deadly to someone with an impaired immune system
  • Listeria monocytogenes – diarrhea, can attack nervous system, death
  • Salmonella  – diarrhea, fever, death

This is what we need to protect our loved ones from when performing personal care on them.  This is why we need to wear gloves and wash our hands often while providing care.