Jan 12, 2011

C Diff, MRSA and other bacterial infections are out there. Be alert!

C Diff, MRSA and other bacterial infections are out there. Be alert!

By Carole B. Larkin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I thought this information is important enough to let Alzheimer's Reading Room readers know.

Not only should Alzheimer's caregivers be alert to watching for signs of the seasonal flu, but also for signs of bacterial antibiotic resistant illnesses such as C Diff, MRSA, VRE among others.

These infections are very contagious, in hospital or out of hospital. This notice to Geriatric Care Managers came from Mike Newell RN. We need to be aware that the possibility of our loved ones being infected by someone they are visiting in a hospital or by someone who has just been discharged from a hospital.

Mike tells us: C Diff is endemic in hospital and skilled nursing settings due to:
The over use of proton pump inhibitors (Protnix, Nexium, etc.) to treat real or imagined GERD (gastric reflux commonly known as heartburn).

These drugs alkalinize the ph of the gut, making it more susceptible to opportunistic infections (C. diff, MRSA, VRE, etc.).

The overuse of antibiotics period. This isn't something new, but persists. (The current medical standard of care for aging patients demands that those placed on an antibiotic be administered a probiotic supplement concurrently.)

The antibiotic resistance of these bacteria strains call for ever more toxic courses of Vancomycin, Flagyl, etc. This further inflames the bowel (as if the diarrhea and the belly pain weren't enough) causing the person to shun nourishment. This cascades to profound loss of muscle mass among the elderly, dehydration, and other complications, further confounding
rehab efforts.

Lack of prevention in in-patient settings persists within some facilities. I walked the hallway of a local community hospital recently, and noted that one out of three patent rooms had contact isolation signage on their doors.

Prevention is enhanced by good hand washing technique with soap and water before leaving client room or handling personal belongings, whether you've gloved up or not. The alcohol wipes and creams don't work on C. diff. Pay attention!

Carole Larkin MAG, CMC, CDP, EICS,
is a Geriatric Care Manager who specializes in helping families with Alzheimer’s and related dementias issues. She also trains caregivers in home care companies, assisted livings, memory care communities, and nursing homes in dementia specific techniques for best care of dementia sufferers. ThirdAge Services LLC, is located in Dallas, TX.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room