Elder Care and Humidity: Setting Standards to Protect Residents
As we’ve discussed before, maintaining proper indoor relative humidity control – between 40 to 60 percent – is ideal for protecting senior residents from a number of health and wellness issues. Setting appropriate standards and adhering to them is the best way to maintain operational compliance, ensuring your employees can perform duties as efficiently as possible by reducing the risk of complications.
Today, let’s continue the conversation, exploring in further detail why indoor relative humidity standards can protect residents and minimize care-related setbacks.
Airborne Infection Control and Virus Prevention
Reducing the spread of aerosols – microscopic droplets of bacteria-rich moisture – is critical to fighting viral outbreaks. Dry indoor conditions allow these airborne droplets to travel further; therefore, if a resident is sick, the virus could easily flash through the population, infecting employees, visitors and residents alike. Setting the indoor relative humidity to between 40 and 60 percent is the only way to effectively limit aerosol exposure and reach, making an elder care facility’s airborne infection control strategy more effective. In addition, maintaining these conditions is conducive to a healthier immune system, which is especially important as seniors are generally much more susceptible to health complications.
Optimal Conditions for Oxygen Tank Deployment
Some seniors in retirement residences and long-term care facilities depend on a steady supply of oxygen to breathe. If the indoor air moisture content is too high, which contributes to high relative humidity, the number of oxygen molecules are reduced that would otherwise be dispersed through the breathing apparatus. This can lead to shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of consciousness, or worse – all risks that can be avoided by ensuring proper humidity control. This is a phenomenon coined by some as “heavy air,” as it literally restricts the ability to take sustained, deep breaths.
Minimized Electrostatic Discharge Risk
Elder care and humidity control strategies both benefit from mitigating the risk of electrostatic shocks. These occur when a current builds up on a conductive surface, which is usually encouraged in low-humidity conditions. This pent-up energy then arcs to the next point of contact with another conductive surface, which can include critical care equipment, computers containing vital resident medical data, and the patients and workers themselves. Ensuring enough indoor air moisture content, regulated at consistent levels, does away with this complication and allows facility operators to focus on delivering the best possible care.
A Good Night’s Rest
We all need a consistent, healthy sleep cycle to remain alert, focused, and in the best possible mental state. Senior residents in caregiving environments are known to take frequent naps and sleep many hours of the day, which is essential for their wellbeing, but this is jeopardized by the discomfort and irritation brought on by poor indoor relative humidity control. From skin and eye irritation to strain on respiratory systems, the complications resulting from this can lead to moodiness, erratic sleep cycles, and potentially even reduced responsiveness to care treatments. Combined with the administration of medicines such as daily pills that may demand a specific sleep cycle, this can lead to a domino effect of issues.
Indoor Temperature Management
The more air moisture content there is in a room or building, the more it will influence the temperature. This is why many of us, especially seniors, have a hard time in high-humidity conditions, with a great example being the classic summer heat wave. The sensation is due to the fact that relative humidity changes how the environment feels, similar to how the wind chill can make cold conditions feel freezing. Add to the fact that elder residents tend to be more sensitive to temperature fluctuations and airflow, and the need to regulate indoor conditions becomes clear. Maximizing your humidity control can also help reduce the need for costlier air conditioner usage during warmer months.
Want to learn more about elder care and humidity? Condair has you covered. Contact us today to learn more about our humidification solutions ideal for care facilities.