Blog by Mark Wolfe, Customer Account Representative, GrandView Pharmacy

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Growing up in Indiana, I used to hear this saying all the time from my father. I thought it was some witty homespun Hoosier idiom, and that my father was quite smart. As I grew older I found out that my dear, old, dad had borrowed the expression from one of America’s greatest Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin. Not only was Franklin a writer, a printer, a philosopher, a politician, a scientist , an inventor, a Free Mason, a statesman, a diplomat, but he was also a humorist. Many of his witty sayings, quotes, idioms, axioms, etc. appeared in his own publication: Poor Richard’s Almanac. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound a cure.” This axiom is as true today as it was when Franklin wrote it. But did you know that Franklin was actually addressing fire safety with his comment? It basically means that is it much easier to forestall a disaster than to deal with it. One great example of forestalling a disaster would be in the area of INFECTION CONTROL.

Now, I don’t want to bore the reader with another Covid-19 directive. But it is important that senior citizens residing in a variety of long term care facilities throughout the USA realize there are many other infections to guard against, and to follow a few simple guidelines to not only prevent infection of Covid-19, but these other common infections as well. Some of these infections are influenza, as well as urinary tract, respiratory, skin and soft tissue infections.

Pneumonia and lower respiratory tract infections remain the leading cause of mortality in nursing home residents and the primary reason for transfer to a hospital. (1) Nat’l Ctr for Biotechnology Information Nat’l. Library if Medicine, Nat’l Institute of Health. Dec 20, 2012. Outbreaks of seasonal influenza are reported periodically and usually occur in the fall of each year and peaking in February, but still present in March and April.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are the most common infection in nursing homes. These can be curtailed by limiting the use of urinary catheters, minimizing the duration of urinary catheter use, diligent hand washing before and after manipulation of the catheter. Viral and bacterial gastroenteritis cause the majority of Diarrheal diseases. Facilities should have an infection control plan in place. A norovirus infection control plan should include appropriate hand hygiene, isolate those residents with symptoms, exclude affected staff, restrict new admissions to that area, and use of chemical disinfectants.

Residents in nursing homes are particulalrly susceptible to skin and soft tissue infections due to the aging process. Dry pruritic skin can serve as portal of entry for pathogens. (2) Principles of Epidemiology, Centers for Disease Control, 5-18-2012.) Pruritic means an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that creates an urge to itch that can involve any part of the body. Skin infections could include Zoster (Shingles), Scabies is another infection seen frequently in nursing homes.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) (Dispatch Health, 9/5/2019, Dr. Phil Mitchell, MD, MS) signs of skin infection to be looking for can include: 

  • Rashes
  • Swelling
  • Pain 
  • Pus
  • Itching 
  • Fever
  • Hot incision site
  • Red, puffy skin around an irritation
  • Sores or blisters 

So now that many of these common infections are made known to the readers what do you do about it?

Let’s handle these in order.

Reducing Risk of Pneumonia in Seniors:

  • Get Vaccinated. Consider a pneumonia vaccine. GrandView Pharmacy can arrange pneumonia vaccine when we do our regular Flu Clinics within many Assisted Living facilities. Be sure to ask your facility’s staff about obtaining pneumonia shots. You can also arrange pneumonia vaccination with your primary care physician. These shots are covered by most insurances.
  • Wash your hands regularly. Follow good hygiene by using warm water, soap, be sure to actively scrub for at least 20 seconds before rinsing and drying your hands off.
  • Make regular use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer throughout the day. Many facilities have stations set up throughout the facility. You can also buy hand sanitizer at your local retail pharmacy for a few dollars.  

Reducing risk of Urinary Tract Infection in Seniors

  • Drink plenty of water. Eight 8 ounce glasses of water each day is recommended.
  • Consider increasing your Vitamin C intake
  • Drink unsweetened cranberry juice
  • When appropriate, Check your adult diapers every two hours

Reducing risk of skin infections in seniors.

  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Received advised immunizations… influenza, pneumonia, shingles, etc.
  • Pay careful attention to personal hygiene
  • Keep abrasions, cuts and scrapes clean

Reducing OVER-ALL RISK TO INFECTIONS IN GENERAL

  • Stay at home as much as possible…reduce the exposure to strangers and those not within your normal sphere of interaction.
  • Wash your hands often and well
  • Disinfect Key Areas Regularly
  • Limit In-Person Doctor Visits if at all possible.
  • Quick Action if symptoms arise. Within your senior living facility speak to your Wellness director about your symptoms. Do not delay. Your symptoms may be a common cold, but they may also be something else.

REMEMBER… An Ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of cure!

If you are interested in learning more about vaccinations, please reach out to your Grandview Pharmacy Account Manager For northern Indiana, Ohio and Michigan that would be Mark Wolfe, 317-450-5723. For central and southern Indiana please contact Charissa Widegren, 317-771-3649; or simply call GrandView Pharmacy at 1-866-827-7575.

About the Author

Click here to learn more about Mark and the rest of the GrandView team.