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MRSA and the Elderly: What You Should Know, Part 2

In my last post, I gave a brief introduction to MRSA infection, a type of Staph infection, and discussed some common symptoms and risk factors associated with this condition.  I would now like to look at some preventive measures and treatment methods that can be taken should you contract an infection.

How do I prevent an MRSA infection?

1. Wash Your Hands – This may sound elementary, but careful hand washing is still the best defense against bacteria.  Be sure to carry around a small bottle of hand sanitizer (at least 62% alcohol) for times when you don’t have access to soap and water.

2. Keep Personal Items Personal – Because MRSA can spread from skin contact as well as contaminated objects, avoid sharing personal items such as towels, sheets, razors and clothing.

3. Keep Wounds Covered – As I mentioned in my last post, MRSA often enters the body through an open cut or abrasion.  In light of this, be sure to keep all wounds covered with a sterile, dry bandage until they heal.

4. Sanitize Linens – If you do have a cut or sore, wash towels and bed linens in a washing machine on the “hot” water setting.  This will reduce your risk of obtaining MRSA through direct contact with these items.

5. Use Antibiotics Appropriately – When you’re prescribed an antibiotic, take exactly as directed.  Do not quit taking the advised doses, even if your condition is getting better.  Do not save any antibiotics for use at a later time.  Inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to bacterial resistance and may put you at a greater medical risk in the future.

What should I do if I suspect an MRSA infection?

It is important to closely watch minor skin problems such as pimples, insect bites or cuts and scrapes.  If the wound does become infected, see your doctor immediately.  If you test positive for staph infection, ask to be tested for MRSA specifically.  Not all drugs that are used to treat ordinary Staph infection are effective against MRSA.

What does treatment look like?

Each case of MRSA infection will look differently, depending on the severity of the infection.  For a local skin MRSA infection, draining the abscess at a doctor’s office is oftentimes the only treatment needed.  For more serious MRSA infections, antibiotics may be needed.  In the most serious cases, supplemental oxygen and intravenous medication may be used in the setting of a hospital or long-term care facility.

Summary

MRSA infection is a serious issue for the elderly, particularly those with weakened immune systems.  Be sure to look back over the ways to prevent MRSA and ask yourself “How is my loved one doing.”  Often times, seniors forget to wash their hands regularly or to take their medications on-time.  In addition, they often lack the amount of energy it takes to sanitize their linens properly or continually prepare a sterile bandage.  If this is the case, Preferred Care at Home is here to help.  Our caregivers will come alongside your loved one and provide them with regular medication reminders.  They can also help with light housekeeping and laundry that will help protect your loved one from the risk of infection.  If you or a loved one is in need, give us a call today and let us join you in celebrating life, with dignity and independence.

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