Handwashing Awareness Week: An Easy Step Towards Senior Health

Washing your hands applies at so many points in the day. National Handwashing Awareness Week comes to highlight the importance of this simple, yet essential aspect of hygiene.


Handwashing Awareness Week

This important awareness week, always falls in the first full week of December. It cousin, Global Handwashing Day  was inaugurated in 2008 by the UN General Assembly. The general aim of the global version was to spread awareness of the importance of washing one’s hands for all societies, and for all countries. Specifically, the importance of washing one’s hands with soap was emphasized.

We think that is obvious! But I recall learning in history class, that in medieval times people bathed twice in their lives, when they were born and when they died. We have come a long way from medieval times . However, not everyone is aware that you need to wash your hands with soap!

In parentheses, we shall just note that the message of encouragement is not aimed at people who have OCD  and wash hands excessively. Additionally, each person must take care to use the soap that is right for their skin.  People with dry skin, for example, must use soap that moisturizes their skin.

So, let’s look at the obvious and less obvious reasons to wash one’s hands.


When Should One Wash One’s Hands?

Let’s see how many types of hand washing we come up with. Here goes:


Related to Food:

Firstly, an obvious one, is to wash your hands before you eat. Putting food into your mouth with clean hands is obviously going to help keep the germs out of your body.

Before, during and after food preparation, yes, it is obvious. And most of the time we do it. The extra awareness is encouragement for when we might forget. For example, what if you answer a phone call while you are making lunch? You go back to preparing the meal, washing the hands on the way.


Related to Personal Hygiene

After using the facilities. Washing hands with soap and hot water will get rid of lingering bacteria. Wash your hands after applying topical medications.

Coughing, sneezing and nose blowing all warrant handwashing with soap and warm water afterwards. And remember to throw out the used tissues.


Related to Other Hygiene

Washing hands when in hospital or in a care clinic. The germs abound in establishments for senior care. The only way to avoid these is to wash one’s hands.

If dealing with contaminated surfaces, even when wearing gloves. This might come up when cleaning kitchen or bathroom surfaces, or looking after a relative who is ill. You should still wash your hands with soap after taking off the gloves.


Related to Other People

After playing with your grandchildren. Even though their patents do their best, it is still wise to take precautions. Kids can get to places and touch things you would never dream of.

If looking after an ill person, handwashing works both ways. Wash before you take care of them – for their benefit. Wash again after you take care of them – for your sake.

Wash hands upon arriving home from a place of medical care for senior adults, whether you were the patient or were visiting a friend.


Things that Could Be Germy by their Nature

Animal care requires hand washing with soap. This includes, every experience with animals, including petting them, cleaning up after them, or feeding them.

After handling garbage, wash your hands.

It is advisable to wash your hands after handling cash. People may not get sick from it, but cash passes from hand to hand to hand and you don’t know where it has been.

After you visit a public place, such as a museum or a theme park.

After reading a newspaper, wash you hands of the black ink that can come from the print. No, it is probably not infected, but it is dirty.

Watch out for using shared machines, such as a public phone and ATM, information stands. Where there are buttons, there may be germs. Touch screens are better, I think. Also, prefer options for using contactless payment systems for entrance to a hotel room, credit card payments and transportation. There are less opportunities for germs to reach a person. If you touched questionable surface, wash with soap thereafter.


Extra Points for Fastidious Cleanliness – Squeaky Clean for Better Hygiene

Remember to clean under the nails too unless the nails are trimmed very short. People with rings on their finger, should take these off to wash the hands thoroughly.

An alternative to soap is alcohol rubs. You can buy these in the pharmacy. This is good if there are no handwashing facilities available.

Senior healthcare center, favor contactless faucets and other contactless services. These reduce opportunities for infection to spread.


5 and 5

Handwashing Awareness Week makes us remember:

  • 5 steps to washing hands from the CDC: “Wet and Lather, Scrub, Rinse and Dry”
  • 5 moments of Hand Hygiene from the WHO

Let us celebrate Handwashing Awareness Week with suds and lather…sorry, I meant with smiles and laughter! Keeping out hands and our loved one’s hands clean is an easy step towards senior health!


Handwashing Awareness Week - sudy improvments for hygiene

Handwashing Awareness Week brings to the fore, the importance of simple handwashing for better hygiene.



Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash