Bed bugs. Ugh. It would be great if you could avoid them altogether, but if you live long enough you’re bound to happen eventually. When caring for an aging loved one or family member, ensuring you properly dispose of the insects the moment they are spotted is vital.
Bed bug infestations impact 1 in 5 Americans and can be a serious threat to the elderly community, who are at risk of anemia and blood loss from attacks.
In this article we’ll look at how creating a bed bug action plan can go a long way in keeping your loved one safe and healthy.
Identifying an Infestation
The most important part of bed bug patient care is knowing if the home is infested.
Bed bugs are not cute. If you’re not sure how to identify them, take a look at this resource.
There are four stages of a bed bug’s life cycle and they look a little different at every stage:
- Eggs are pearl white, and about the size of the head of a pin. They can usually be found in clusters in hiding spots.
- Instar Nymphs are the first stage after hatching. They’re extremely small and difficult to see unless moving or recently fed.
- Nymphs are smaller than adults and translucent whitish-yellow in color.
- Adults are reddish brown in color, wingless, and about the size of an apple seed.
It’s almost certain where there is one bed bug, there will be many. Talk to a professional pest controller the moment you spot signs of an infestation.
Where bed bugs hide
In addition to the bugs themselves, they also leave signs that indicate their presence, most notably their molted skins. Molted skins shed as the bugs grow and can be found in areas where bed bugs hide. These areas include:
- Behind baseboards
- Small crevices and hiding places
The skins are thin and translucent, so not exactly easy to spot. It helps to use a flashlight and magnifying glass when carefully inspecting the areas listed above.
On top of molted skin, an infestation can leave a strong smell, often said to be musty and sweet, along with bed sheets and mattresses having small, blood-colored spots on them.
Of course, bed bug bites are also an indicator of an infestation. They’re small, red, itchy bumps that can appear on the skin. However, it’s quite common for people not to react to bug bites, so it’s not the most reliable way to determine their presence.
Caring for a Loved One with Bed Bugs
When you’ve noticed bed bugs in your family member’s home, the next step should be to remove them from the infestation area immediately. Once they’re removed, follow a five-step approach:
- Get them into a shower or bath to wash off any potential bed bugs and stop the spread
- While they’re bathing, put their clothes in the dryer for 30 minutes on high heat to kill any bed bugs that may be hiding
- Check their skin for any bites. If they’ve suffered a bad attack check with their primary physician on what precautions to take
- Wait until the area has been cleared of infestation before taking them back
- Check in with them in the following days as bug bites can often go undetected at first in the elderly
Treating Bed Bugs in The Home
After you’ve ensured your patient is out of harm’s way, it’s time to take care of the infestation. While many people take care of bed bugs themselves, it’s recommended to take extra precautions and hire a pest control expert to treat the bed bugs when dealing with the elderly.
While you’re waiting for the exterminator, however, or want to get an immediate start on cleaning your patient’s area, at-home bed bug treatment can be performed. At-home treatment is basically cleaning the places where bed bugs live, or are likely to live.
Start with this checklist:
- Clean all bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry on high heat
- For items that can’t be washed, put them in the dryer for 30 minutes on high heat
- Seal small hiding areas to stop the spread and force bugs out into the open
- Purchase protective covers that seal mattresses and box springs
- Throw away any infested items
- Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams before vacuuming
- Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. Place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place it in an outdoor garbage can
Following these steps in addition to talking with a professional pest controller will provide a thorough cleaning of your loved one’s home.
How In-Home Care Can Help
Bed bugs aren’t just scary to look at, they offer a serious threat to your loved ones and require careful attention to locate in the home. When you have a well trained, in-home care professional providing support in your home, they can often spot a bed bug attack early and they know how to treat both the patient and care for the home to fully rid it of the insects.
If you’d like to learn more about protecting the elderly from bed bugs, or how in-home care can support you, we’re ready to help. Contact Golden Care today.