by Rose Rohloff
The baby boomer generation is now the growing population of elderly with more care needs in home health. As the current generation is being faced with the care responsibilities, many are still unaware concerning various facets of caring for others: advanced directives and living wills; stimulation and diets for mental sharpness, questions to ask and quality of care considerations with becoming power of attorneys - the core of healthcare awareness. One area is focused heavily within hospitals and other care delivery environments, but yet over looked in private homes – surface areas and cleanliness.
A popular trend in houses is the use of marble and granite as counter tops. A leading surface expert, Linda Lybert President of Healthcare Surface Consulting stated, “Granite and Marble are like large sponges you cannot wring out.” The photo displayed shows the build up of E. coli bacteria in the pores of stone. According to Ms. Lybert, even when sealed, the porousness is reduced, but not eliminated. And, bleach is not able to eliminate once they reside in the crevices.
All surfaces in the home, counter tops, floors including laminates, tile and grout need diligent daily cleaning and disinfection. However, Ms. Lybert brings awareness that regarding "stone surfaces, including granite/marble, there is no effective means to disinfect these surfaces." Consider, "granite is an underground aquifer for our water filtering out all kinds of things. Given the right kind of environment, heat and moisture, bacteria will grow."
As the elderly begin to lose their mobility and agility, it is important to maintain clean surfaces in bathrooms and bedrooms, along with the most important surface being the skin. Diligent hand washing and bathing is important throughout the day to avoid cross contamination from the loved one you are caring for, as well as to them. The other surface area to be conscientious of is bedding. When excrement accidents occur, it is important to wash bedding with very hot water to not only clean them, but also kill the microbes.
Clostridium difficile (commonly known as C-diff) "is in the community and found in outpatient settings. There are significant risk factors in patients who are immunosuppressant, individuals who have been on antibiotic therapy, and the elderly population." C-diff is a secondary, very dangerous and potentially deadly infection after antibiotic use. [read article] It is important to those in the community to have appropriate antibiotic prescriptions and use, especially avoiding unnecessary broad spectrum antibiotic use which targets the "good" bacteria you need internally (and not on external surfaces) to kill off C-diff.
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