In the event of a medical emergency, first aid is the initial medical assistance provided to an individual while waiting for first responders to arrive. First aid training is essential for caregivers.
Knowing how to administer CPR, first aid and other life-saving techniques is a must for caregivers; particularly those individuals who care for your elderly loved ones. In the event of a medical emergency, this training can mean the difference between life and death. Here are some of the skills first aid training will provide elderly caregivers.
What to do in the event of a fall
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide.” Every year an estimated 646,000 individuals die from falls globally. Of these, adults 65 years and older suffer the greatest risk of a fatality.
Senior citizens are at greater risk for falling, particularly when they have difficulty with balance, loss of muscle mass or other chronic health conditions. During first aid training, a caregiver will learn what to do in the event of a fall.
In most cases, it’s best not to move the injured individual. They may be seriously injured and moving them too quickly could make their injury worse. First aid training will also teach caregivers how to prevent falls whenever possible.
How to treat minor cuts and burns
As our loved one’s age, their skin becomes more fragile and susceptible to cuts, bruises, and infections. First aid training will teach a caregiver what to in the event of the following:
- How to assess wounds – Based on the caregiver’s initial assessment, they may decide to call for additional medical assistance (i.e. for stitches).
- Superficial cuts – If a cut appears to be a surface wound, it’s important to clean the area and apply an antibiotic ointment with a clean bandage.
- Deep cuts – If a wound is deep, start by stopping any bleeding and assess to see if it will need more medical attention.
- Bleeding – Some injuries bleed more than others. Depending on where they are located, they can result in a long-term injury. It’s also important to be aware that seniors who take a blood thinner may bleed more. When this is the case, it may take longer to stop the bleeding.
What to do in the event of choking
Older adults can experience difficulty swallowing and may experience choking episodes. This is especially true with certain foods, such as hard meats or stringy vegetables. While coughing frequently occurs, choking is serious and requires immediate medical attention, especially if the airway is blocked.
First aid training will provide caregivers with the skills to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre. The Heimlich manoeuvre (abdominal thrusts) causes an abrupt burst of air to be pushed up from the diaphragm through the trachea. This sudden burst of air will dislodge the foreign object blocking the airflow, sending it flying up into the mouth and clearing the airway to permit unobstructed breathing.
An individual may be choking if:
- They grab their throat.
- Have trouble speaking.
- Are unable to breathe.
- Their skin turns blue.
- Are only able to nod their head.
How to perform CPR
Basic first aid training will include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). According to the Mayo Clinic, CPR “is a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped.” They recommend that everyone learn CPR with chest compressions (i.e. untrained bystanders, caregivers and medical professionals).
Elderly individuals often suffer from chronic illness, which can result in sudden heart failure. Proper training in CPR can assist in providing an initial response in the event of heart failure. This life-saving technique can help sustain life until medical professionals arrive.
It’s essential for caregivers to learn basic first aid skills from licensed and accredited first aid trainers to ensure they administer the correct type of care and medical attention for their patients. First aid training will provide elderly caregivers with the basic medical care techniques needed in the case of an emergency.
In addition to caregivers working with elderly, family members could also benefit from first aid training. If you are interested in providing first aid training to your caregivers or wish to learn first aid for yourself, please contact the professionals at HSS for more information on our various first aid training classes.