Hands can be very comforting to someone who is ill or just not feeling well.
In elder care, you learn this quickly.
When someone loses the ability to communicate verbally, they may be able to communicate through touch. Or perhaps you are communicating your love through your hands or the work of your hands as in knitting.
Hands can also transmit germs, sometimes deadly ones.
A study released yesterday backs up frequent hand washing. It shows some very common surfaces are often contaminated with germs.
Caregivers can be at increased risk for infections due to fatigue and exhaustion. Additionally the person you care for may have an immune system that puts him or her at increased risk for infections.
I remember being very concerned about my mother when she was in her 90s. I was careful to wash my hands and surfaces as often as I could.
Thankfully, she didn’t get sick. I did though. I am forever grateful it was me, not my mother who got the infection.
What are the surfaces with the most germs in U.S. cities?
The study is from Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona and Kimberly-Clark’s The Healthy Workplace Project. According to this study the surfaces with the highest rates of contamination are –
- Gas pump handles. 71% of the gas pump handles were “highly contaminated.”
- Mailbox handles. A close second at 68%.
- Escalator rails at 43%.
- ATM buttons follow at 41%.
- Parking meters and kiosks were 40%.
- Cross walk buttons were 35%.
- Vending machine buttons were also 35%.
Bibliography: Testing Reveals High Contamination Levels of Everyday Objects in Major U.S. Cities; Gas Pump and Mailbox Handles are Among the Dirtiest. Press Release Dated October 25, 2011.
What does this study mean to caregivers?
Well, it’s a good reminder that germs can be on everyday surfaces. And hand washing is important. Whether you do it with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
As a caregiver, you may want to consider carrying hand sanitizer with you. It can be quite handy in your car. And there are sizes that fit into a purse or pocket.
The folks coming into contact with the one you are giving care to should also wash their hands more often, including professionals.
To see a short video on hand washing, just leave a comment on this post. If you are reading this post on a site other than Caregiving With Purpose just Click Here Right Now to comment.
To your healthy and happy knitting & caregiving,
Ina Gilmore, M.D. (Retired)
“The Knitting Dr.”