Some of the most common situations in which seniors may need first aid include after falls, small cuts and scrapes, cardiovascular events, and heat or cold related illnesses. The first aid procedures in each of these events tends to be a little different for seniors than it is for children and younger adults. Here are some things to know:
If the fall does not look like it was a bad one, help the person into a comfortable position and treat any injuries (bumps, bruises, scrapes) as normal. Watch the person for about 10-15 minutes to make sure there is no excessive or unstoppable bleeding, swelling, or any other signs of a more serious injury. If you see any of these things, get the person to a doctor or emergency room to be checked out. Minor falls can cause serious injury in people over 65 years old.
If the fall looks serious or if there is a possibility that the person may have bumped their head or neck or they may have injured their hips, back, or any other bones, do not let them move around, motion can cause injuries to grow more serious if not done properly. Call for emergency help and stay with them until emergency services arrive. Get as much information from them as possible about what hurts and where, how they fell, if they hit anything, etc. as you can in case they lose consciousness before emergency services arrives.
Cuts and Scrapes:
The risk of cuts and scrapes is higher in older adults as is the risk of an infection in a cut or scrape. Therefore if a cut or scrape occurs, you want to make sure that it is thoroughly cleaned and cared for properly. If possible rinse the cut or scrape with clean water to try and remove any dirt or debris. Apply an antibacterial or something like Neosporin and cover it with a bandage. If the injury is bleeding, press firmly but gently to stop the bleeding or apply pressure with a bandage or tape and lift the injured area above the person’s heart.
If the bleeding is serious or the injury looks severe, get them to a doctor or the emergency room.
Know the signs of infection: redness, swelling, increased pain, and/or drainage from the wound. If the injury becomes infected, make an appointment with the person’s doctor as soon as possible to get proper care.
The signs of heatstroke include: a body temp over 104 degrees, increased breathing rate, nausea, vomiting, and headache (know that not all of these symptoms have to be present for it to be heatstroke).
If a person is having heatstroke or you suspect that they are, call 911 immediately, then get them out of the heat and try to cool their body down. To cool them down try a cool shower, give them ice cold water to drink, sponge them with cool water, or cover them with a damp towel. If they stop breathing, perform CPR.
The signs of hypothermia include: shivering, hunger, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, accelerated or weak pulse, and odd pattern of breathing (again hypothermia could present as any combination of these symptoms, not necessarily all of them at once.)
If you think someone has hypothermia, get emergency help as soon as possible. Bring the person in from the cold and try to help them warm up. Remove any wet clothing. Provide them with warm, dry clothes and cover them with a warm blanket. Reheat them slowly while paying special attention to warming their chest and abdomen. If they stop breathing, perform CPR.
Always get professional help from emergency services if you even suspect someone is having a stroke or heart attack. Know the signs and symptoms of each.
Signs of a Stroke include: facial drooping, weakness of the arms, and difficulty speaking.
Signs of a Heart Attack include: chest pain, shortness of breath, and discomfort in your upper body.
If you suspect anything like this happening call 911, stay with the person, and keep them warm.
There are online classes for learning First Aid and CPR, one site that you can get your training from is www.nationalCPRfoundation.com