In Flu Season we probably double the housekeeping efforts and nursing wipes the table tops with high-strength cleaners all day long. The residents’ coughs and sneezes expose us all to numerous viruses, not just the media-popular seasonal flu.

The initiative is to keep those old runny, sneezes from settling in people’s lungs and developing into pneumonia. So far, mission accomplished, at the halfway point of the season.

Again this year, staff and their children are getting hit hard but residents are doing better, making me think the seasonal flu is one we’ve seen before and built up some immunity. My hundred-year-olds have had 75 winter viruses including doubles and triples, so they’re getting mild cases and we keep the hygiene focused on all the places a virus sits and waits for a host.

We know there are three public health hazards facing us, MRSA, C-Diff, and VRE. Acquaint yourselves, if you like. We can manage the communities with precautions against one resident infecting others and without sounding cavalier, these three are just the cost of being old and a little or a lot immune-compromised, so the organisms prey on vulnerable people.

It’s the bugs I don’t know about yet that scare me. Hospitals, no fault of theirs, are breeding grounds for infections and mutations of organisms into more dangerous ones. Hospital-acquired pneumonia tends to be more serious than community-acquired pneumonia (long story).

For families looking into assisted living for an elder, I recommend grilling the facility staff about infection control and contagion from the three problems I mentioned at the beginning.

If the staff can’t discuss the issues in detail, you should probably look elsewhere.