First Aid for Seniors non accredited course is specifically aimed at the elderly as well as those who care for them. It can be run at an aged care facility or group venue as an entertaining and informative session for seniors or more in depth for those who care for them
Duration: 2½ hours
The elderly have special concerns when they are being treated for injuries or health issues. You should consider their unique needs when performing first aid.
Assisting elders who are frail or have trouble with mobility takes extra thought and care. Seniors first aid requires gentleness and compassion. Many elders have some dementia or can be confused or scared. Be calm and reassuring. Many may be hard of hearing, so talk slowly and clearly.
What topics are covered?
- Falls & Fractures
- Cuts and Scrapes
- Cardiovascular Problems – CPR on the Elderly – Angina – Chronic Heart Disease
- Heat and Cold-Related Illness
- Poisoning and pill confusion
- Diabetic Shock/Reaction
One out of three adults aged 65 and older fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This often results in lacerations, hip or other fractures, and head injury.
Common causes of falls include:
- poor vision
- physical inactivity or immobility
- conditions or medications that cause dizziness
- problems with balance
Most elderly people are prone to falls and the trauma can cause severe sprains and broken bones, or fractures. Elders have more fragile bones and should have medical attention after any serious fall.
Control any bleeding. Handle carefully and immobilize the area. Check for blockage of blood circulation (look for blue on the tips of fingers/toes/etc.). Call for medical attention and follow their advice.
Don’t move the person and don’t try to reset the bone.
You can wrap ice in a towel and hold gently on area till help arrives. Speak reassuringly to the elderly and try to keep them calm and as comfortable as possible.
Cuts and Scrapes
The skin becomes more fragile with age, which results in more cuts and scrapes. These are susceptible to infection. While older age itself does not cause infections, many seniors also battle chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, which decrease the body’s immune system defenses against infections.
Senior citizens tend to be frail and special care should be given to their cuts and abrasions. Wounds need to be cleaned as soon as possible because the elderly are more prone to infection. Protect the area with a bandage.
Have a stocked first aid kit on hand that includes different sized bandages and some antibiotic cream. Without a stocked kit, you may wait too long to take care of a cut and the chance of infection rises quickly – especially with elders who may already have a compromised immune system. Soap and water are good for cleaning wounds or you can have special cleaning solution.
If the older person complains about a pain, then examine the area for any cuts and abrasions, bruises or tenderness.
Be aware of possible fractures or broken bones.
Cardiovascular Problems – CPR on the Elderly – Angina – Chronic Heart Disease
Age-related changes in heart and blood vessels put seniors at greater risk for heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes.
If CPR is needed, be aware of the decreased bone strength in the elderly. Breaking the ribs (which happens frequently in CPR even on younger people) of an older person can cause injury to internal organs.
If you suspect that an elderly person may have had a stroke, then you can ask them these questions to determine if they need help:.
Can you hold both arms out in front of you? If one drifts down, it could be a stroke.
What is your name and birthdate?Not only are you looking for sign of confusion, but also for slurred speech, or an inability to understand you.
Get help fast! The sooner a person suffering a stroke gets help, the better. Many people do not realise they have had a stroke — it is better to be safe, than sorry.
For more information on identifying a stroke victim, read this.
Heat and Cold-Related Illness
With increasing age, people are more likely to have chronic medical conditions that impair temperature regulation. Seniors also may take prescription medications that change temperature balance. Make sure seniors always use sunscreen and wear appropriate protective clothing when outdoors. This protects them from either warm or cold weather exposure. Ensure they stay hydrated to protect against heat-related illnesses.
Pill boxes are a big help for seniors to remember their correct dosages.
Another concern of elders is poisoning. They may accidentally take too much of a medication or become confused and ingest a poisonous substance or be a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you are a caretaker of an older person, then you may want to remove any toxic substances from their home. Get their furnace or heater checked regularly and install a carbon monoxide alarm. If someone has carbon monoxide poisoning, then get them to fresh air immediately.
Also, be sure to set up any medications as necessary. It can be difficult for the elderly to remember if they’ve taken their medicine. Use the daily dosage containers to help cut down on mistakes.
A great idea is to write down all medicines and dosages and keep a copy in the elder’s wallet, a copy in their house, and a copy in your wallet. In an emergency situation, you cannot depend on remembering medications off the top of your head. Drug interactions can be very dangerous.
Even if the person seems okay, but you suspect poisoning, call your poison control center. Have the container or pill bottle nearby to give necessary information.
Do not induce vomiting, unless directed to do so!
There are two types of diabetic conditions: Low blood sugar and high blood sugar. An older person may have diabetic reactions frequently if they are not able to regulate their insulin, or they may be good at regulating and still an episode can happen.
If you are a caretaker of a diabetic with low blood sugar, keep a roll of Life Savers candy with you.
- Help the elder to sit down safely.
- Call for medical help.
- If the patient is conscious and has low blood sugar, give orange juice, Life Savers, or other candy.
- If the patient is unconscious, check their airway. NEVER give an unconscious person anything to eat or drink!
The basic rule in handling any type of seizure is to keep the person from harm until their full awareness comes back.
- Turn them gently on their side and make sure they are breathing.
- Don’t put a spoon in their mouth. (Seizures do not make people swallow their tongues.)
- Don’t try to give fluids or medicine until the seizure is completely over and the person is fully alert.
- Just let the seizure happen naturally. Don’t try to keep the person from jerking. Elderly people have fragile bones and trying to hold them may cause fractures. The elder may get very agitated. Grabbing them may cause them to fight you.
Stay calm and gently guide them away from any harm.Keep reassuring them. The confusion afterwards is usual and should not last more than one hour.
- Call for medical help, especially if the shaking lasts longer than five minutes or if the elder complains of a serious headache.