I found an interesting article from Prevention’s List-Maker’s Get Healthy Guide book. It is so interesting and something many people don’t think about. I want to share it here with you.

An average adult can touch as many as 30 objects within a minute, including germ-harboring, high-traffic surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, phone receivers, and remote controls. At home, you do all that you can to keep the germs at bay. But what happens when you step out the door to go to dinner, do some grocery shopping, or visit the doctor’s office? Know where germs are most likely to lurk, as you’ll find out here.

Restaurant Menus

Have you ever seen anyone wash off a menu? Probably not. A recent study in the Journal of Medical Virology reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. If it’s a popular restaurant, hundreds of people could be handling the menus–and passing their germs on to you. Never let a menu touch your plate or silverware, and wash your hands after you place your order.

Lemon Wedges

According to a 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Health, nearly 70% of the lemon wedges perched on the rims of restaurant glasses contain disease-causing microbes. When the researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, they found 25 different microorganisms lingering on the 76 lemons that they secured, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria. Tell your server that you’d prefer your beverage sans fruit. Why risk it?

 Condiment Dispensers

It’s the rare eatery that regularly bleaches its condiment containers. And the reality is that many people don’t wash their hands before eating, says Kelly Reynolds, PhD. So while you may be diligent, the guy who poured the ketchup before you may not have been, which means his germs are now on your fries. Squirt hand sanitizer on the outside of the condiment bottle or use a disinfectant wipe before you grab it. Holding the bottle with a napkin won’t help; napkins are porous, so microorganisms can pass right through, Reynolds says.

Restroom Door Handles

Don’t think you can escape the restroom without touching the door handle? Palm a spare paper towel after you wash up and use it to grasp the handle. Yes, other patrons may think you’re a germ-phobe–but you’ll never see them again, and you’re the one who won’t get sick.

Soap Dispensers

About 25 percent of public restroom dispensers are contaminated with fecal bacteria. Soap that harbors bacteria may seem ironic, but that’s exactly what a recent study found. “Most of these containers are never cleaned, so bacteria grow as the soap scum builds up,” says Charles Gerba, PhD. “And the bottoms are touched by dirty hands, so there’s a continuous culture feeding millions of bacteria.” Be sure to scrub hands thoroughly with plenty of hot water for 15 to 20 seconds–and if you happen to have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, use that, too.

Grocery Carts

The handles of almost two-thirds of the shopping carts tested in a 2007 study at the University of Arizona were contaminated with fecal bacteria. In fact, the bacterial counts of the carts exceeded those of the average public restroom. Swab the handle with a disinfectant wipe before grabbing hold (stores are starting to provide them, so look around for a dispenser). And while you’re wheeling around the supermarket, skip the free food samples, which are nothing more than communal hand-to-germ-to-mouth zones.

Airplane bathrooms

When Gerba tested for microbes in the bathrooms of commercial jets, he found surfaces from faucets to doorknobs to be contaminated with E. coli. It’s not surprising, then, that you’re 100 times more likely to catch a cold when you’re airborne, according to a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research.

Doctor’s office

A doctor’s office is not the place to be if you’re trying to avoid germs. These tips can help limit your exposure.

  • Take your own books and magazines (and kid’s toys, if you have your children or grandchildren with you).
  • Also pack your own tissues and hand sanitizers, which should be at least 60% alcohol content.
  • In the waiting room, leave at least two chairs between you and the other patients to reduce your chances of picking up their bugs. Germ droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel about 3 feet before falling to the floor.

I’ve always thought I was careful, but this list gives me more ideas to protect myself! I hope it gives you ideas to protect yourself too!


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Admin Note: This is in response to MSH’s question to me about a situation occuring with her loved one in a nursing home.

I so understand your frustration. As many good hearted staff as there are in nursing homes, there are still those who think they know it all in their approach to issues. You know first hand how you have to be totally on top of everything that is going on and be an advocate for your loved one who can’t be her own advocate.

You have medical evaluations on your side, so that is a good thing. You will have a struggle if the nursing home is giving out wrong information. Once a resident enters a nursing home – that nursing home is responsible for that resident and it is very hard to “get rid” of them, so to speak. Because of that, nursing homes get “picky” about who they will accept and if they think there is a potential for many problems they can decide not to accept that resident.
You want to look for a nursing home that is experienced with working with Alzheimers dementia. that is the first task. When you find one, you will need to approach them with your story.
 I would suggest you request all your loved ones medical records from the current nursing home, be sure you have the evaluations that show she is not psychotic. You may need to literally go to the DON and administrator of a facility you want to have her in, and gently explain the situation (but don’t “put down” the current DON, that would be a bad sign to the new facility). Show the records and the evaluations and explain that you are looking for a new home because you are looking for someone who is experienced in working with Alzheimers & their special activity needs.  The new facility will want to know why you are moving her. You will need to give an explanation so you will need to decide how much to share and in what tone. A kinder tone may get you further, meaning you don’t want to complain about the current facility but perhaps explain you find they are not understanding your loved ones needs and that is why you are looking for a facility that does understand her needs.
There are some things that will help you, such as do you have power of attorney for healthcare decisions? The facility can’t just put someone on psych medications without a reason and without consent. In addition, you should be talking with your loved ones personal physician (not just the medical director of the facility).  He/She can also tell the new facility that your loved one doesn’t need a locked unit, just a wander guard and activities. In fact, I don’t see in your story anything about if the Medical Director is at all involved. You do want to be sure her personal physician is one who is experienced in Alzheimers dementia.
I hope this helps you.

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Admin Note: Names/places have been redacted to protect privacy. MSH has given permission to share this with you. I will post, later, my answer to MSH.
MSH writes:
My loved one is currently 81-years old and has been in ___ of ___ since 2006 with vascular dementia following a lengthy hospital confinement for a stroke and subsequent reaction to medication, pneumonia and coma.
I was so pleased with the nursing home environment that we selected for her and watched her improve dramatically, she was up walking the full length of the dining room in short and regained a lot of cognitive ability.  We enjoyed a year of going shopping on the weekends, coming home to spend the nights, even back to climbing stairs.  In my experience we had some ups and downs but nothing that I wasn’t able to resolve until ___ was hired as the DON in 200___.  From there to now, things have gotten progressively worse!
This DON doesn’t work with the family members.  She dictates what will be done or not done and basically gives the family no voice in decisions.  At one point she announced that she was sending my loved on out to a psych unit in a city 50+ miles from my home.  She had decided that my loved one was now psychotic.
When I protested … that just wasn’t acceptable.  I won that battle with her being sent out for a full-days evaluation and ____ telling me what the MD at the hospital said would be accepted.  The MD at the hospital agreed with me that there was no evidence of Psychosis.  Two days later the DON contacted the Medical Director and had Risperdal prescribed. 
Fortunately the floor nurse contacted me and I was able to tell her about the reaction to the Ativan back in 2006 when she first had the stroke and that according to the FDA, Risperdal is not approved in the treatment of dementia.  There was a 3-way conversation with the floor nurse talking to me on one phone while she talked to the DON on another phone.  The end result was the DON stating that she was through talking with me and she was going to do what needed to be done.
I complained very loudly all the way up to the CEO of the parent company.  I also immediately began looking for a new facility for my loved one.  In the interim I learned that an in-house psych evaluation had been scheduled which I attended.  During the course of that evaluation, the facilities psychiatrist told me there was no evidence of psychosis and that they needed to provide some busy activity for her.  She has dementia and dementia is a busy disease.
Today I learned from two facilities that the reason the potential facilities are turning her down is that the nursing staff at ___ is telling the admissions people that she requires a locked unit.  She is currently not in a locked unit, but on Alert Guard … and I’m at a loss.
Do you have suggestions how I can overcome this obstacle and find placement in a facility where ___ is not employed?
Thank  you!

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