September is Head Lice Prevention Month. There is a common misconception that lice is something that only impacts children, and that adults don’t need to worry about infestations. As a family caregiver for an elderly adult, you should know this is not true. While children are more likely to contract lice, adults can and do experience lice infestations as well. This makes it extremely important that you understand these pests and how to protect your parent from them, or manage them if they occur.
Some things you should know about head lice include:
Head lice are most common among children, but readily spread to those around them, particularly their family members and caretakers. This means if your children come home from school with lice, it can easily spread to you, and then to your aging parent.
Lice are not known to spread any form of disease, however an infection can form in skin that is damaged by scratching at the insects themselves, or the bites. These infections can be serious, particularly for elderly adults as their immune systems are lower and less effective than those of younger people.
A lice infestation is not a sign of being unclean. As a matter of fact, lice survive better in clean hair. This means you cannot assume your parent is not at risk because they have good hygiene, or that simply washing their hair will remove an infestation.
Lice cannot survive on surfaces such as clothing, theater seats, pillows, or carpeting for very long. While it is possible to contract an infestation from a surface very soon after it came in contact with an infected person, it is not likely.
Elderly adults can contract lice if there is an infestation in a treatment facility or medical center where they are receiving treatment or care.
Becoming a family caregiver for an aging parent can be one of the most meaningful and fulfilling decisions you make in your life. It can also present you with some of your greatest challenges, and there are times when you may feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, you do not have to go on this journey by yourself. There is help available, and one of the greatest sources of this help can be home care servics.
A home care services provider can be a valuable supplement to the care you give your parent, and can respectfully take on care tasks that are challenging, and even sensitive, for you and your aging parent. This not only means their care needs will be fulfilled effectively, but that you will have more time and flexibility to focus on other elements of your life, including your own needs and well-being.