Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speak!

Topic: Seniors, Germs, and Fingernails

Fingernails carry some interesting objects under them. I dare not name what I have found over the years as a nurse (in the hospital) and a caregiver. Let me just start by saying, you would NOT want to have any of it for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Fingernails can be so pretty when painted and groomed, but you must pay attention to them.

One of the favorite moments shared with mommy was our home-grown nail shop. It was filled with all types of items to make your fingernails look amazing. I still have the many bottles of nail polish. Every now and again, I will paint my nails while thinking of mommy. Sometimes I smile. Sometimes I cry.

My mother enjoyed getting her natural nail polished. We would match the nail polish colors with outfits picked out to wear to the senior center each week. Before polishing her nails, I would always assessment her fingers and look under her nails. The best efforts by seniors to ensure hands and fingernails are clean after washing them can still need vigilance. It is possible for the elderly to overlook the smallest of debris, especially under the fingernails.

As a nurse and now Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, looking before you leap is important.

That is being PROACTIVE!

Do you ever wonder what is hiding under your fingernails? Bathroom hygiene is something caregivers must pay attention with especially when seniors are still managing your bathroom habits. If the care recipient is helping in the kitchen handling foods and meats that are raw, the particles can get under fingernails. A short note about artificial nail, with seniors, I would consider being careful. They carry germs that you do not want to know about. As a nurse, I was never exciting about false fingernails(germ collectors x1000). Another surprising note, men carry more germs under their fingernails than women. Why do you think that is? Men do not pay attention to their fingernails like women.

Bottom line…wash them hands and pay attention to under the fingernail germs. You can use soapy water and a soft fingernail brush to clean the fingernails. We want to minimize bacteria that can grows unaware. Keep those fingernails clear. Be Proactive, please and thank you!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is author and speaker. Her book: From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor shares caregiving tips.

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