How many times have you used a public restroom and observed someone not washing their hands after doing their business? Sadly, you may be guilty of practicing the same unhealthy hygiene habits. In addition to helping to prevent the spread of COVID, proper hand washing – and hand “awareness” in general – are essential for avoiding other potentially fatal illnesses such as the flu and pneumonia. December 4 – 10, 2022, is National Handwashing Awareness Week, making it the perfect time to explore this all-important topic in more detail. 

What Are the Most Common Types of Respiratory Infections?

Notably dangerous for young children or those over the age of 65, these illnesses are commonly spread through the respiratory tract via coughing, sneezing, and touching:

  • Flu and flu-like illnesses
  • Common cold
  • Bronchitis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Pharyngitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Tuberculosis

So where does the principle of hand awareness come in? The only way these germs can enter your body is through the eyes, nose, and mouth – sometimes referred to by healthcare professionals as the “T Zone.”

Who is Henry the Hand?

Imagine for a moment how great it would be if you and your loved ones never got sick again from a respiratory illness. As the brainchild of long-time physician Dr. Will Sawyer, MD, Henry the Hand is the official mascot and reigning “Hand Champion Handwasher” of National Handwashing Awareness Week.

In fact, there’s even a Henry the Hand Foundation started by Dr. Will in 2001 – long before COVID impacted the daily lives of everyone across the globe. With a motto of “Spread the word not the germs,” Henry and Dr. Will have teamed up to share the importance of handwashing and other hand awareness principles across the globe to stem the tide of respiratory diseases and illnesses.

What Are the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness?

Proudly endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Association of Family Practitioners (AAFP), the four essential principles of hand awareness behaviors are:

  1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating.
  2. Do not cough into your hands.
  3. Do not sneeze into your hands.
  4. Above all, do not put your fingers into your eyes, nose, or mouth.

How Can You Help?

Proper handwashing techniques – combined with a heightened sense of hand awareness – are one of the easiest ways to prevent epidemics and global pandemics.

According to Dr. Sawyer’s website: “[By] following the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness you will be in virtual isolation regardless of the people around you. [That’s because] direct contamination (inoculation) of your mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth) is the most common way infectious disease enters your body.”

So, whether you are a senior, student, parent, grandparent, professional caregiver, or an informal caregiver, start by sharing with all your family members, friends, classmates, and coworkers to help them stay healthier one handwash at a time.

Here’s a great idea: What if we all work together to minimize the fear and threat of spreading infectious diseases or seasonal illnesses by practicing the Four Principles of Hand Awareness everywhere we go? After all, it would make our world a safer, healthier, more germ-free place to live for everyone!

Help Us Celebrate National Handwashing Awareness Week!

At Senior1Care, proper handwashing and preventing the spread of germs are things we take very seriously every day. As a reputable home care provider with several locations in Indiana, our in-home caregivers are routinely updated on the latest hygiene practices and techniques – including those for COVID-19 and the seasonal flu. Our compassionate, experienced caregivers are trained to deliver professional, reliable care in the same respectful and friendly manner that they would treat their own family members.

At Senior1Care, we understand that having a caregiver in your loved one’s home is a decision that requires trust. Our goal is to build relationships with clients by listening to their needs and providing the highest level of quality care possible. We are committed to helping your loved ones maintain their well-being, independence, and comfort. To learn more about our flexible caregiving options or schedule a FREE assessment for a senior in one of our service areas, visit us by clicking here now.