There is strong evidence that shows that thoroughly washing your hands regularly helps to cut down your risk of catching COVID-19 significantly. Ensuring your loved ones observe proper hand hygiene is an effective way to keep them safe during this extraordinary period.
With Circuit Breaker measures in place, most of us will be staying at home more, leaving the house only for essential services. Even so, it pays to be cautious and observe stringent hand hygiene in order to reduce your risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19.
Hand hygiene in this context is more than simply wetting your hands under running water and calling it a day. You should be using soap and washing thoroughly, even between your fingers; if you’re uncertain of the proper technique for hand-washing, it’s recommended that you refer to Singapore General Hospital’s video guide, “Hand hygiene with soap and water.”
Once you’re clear on the steps for proper hand hygiene, you should provide a demonstration of the steps so your loved one with dementia is able to follow. Make hand-washing an activity to encourage them to join in if they seem reluctant, and place signs or pictures near the toilet and kitchen sinks as visible reminders throughout the day.
It’s especially important to ensure that your loved one washes their hands before mealtimes, after going to the toilet, and after they’ve been coughing or blowing their nose. If you or your loved one has to go out for an essential service, make sure that you all wash your hands before touching any surfaces in the home, and avoid touching your face before you’ve washed your hands.
If your loved one’s skin seems to be drying out more due to the constant hand washing, you should help them to apply moisturiser to their hands, and consider switching soaps to a more gentle soap that’s suitable for sensitive skin.
Should your family member with dementia be reluctant to washing their hands with water and soap, hand sanitiser is a suitable alternative, but should be accompanied by more frequent disinfection of the home to keep them safer.
For more information, write to [email protected] or call the Dementia Helpline at 6377 0700, Monday to Friday (9am to 6pm).
For ADA’s latest advisories on COVID-19, please visit dementia.org.sg/advisory/covid. You may also refer to our list of COVID-19 care tips and suggestions at dementia.org.sg/covid19.