Special first aid skills are not required to care for individuals ages 65 and older but it is vital to fully understand that with increasing age, the elderly are prone to injuries and accidents that need appropriate first aid care. By being familiar with some of the common situations that can occur among the elderly, it can greatly help in delivering care.
Cuts and scrapes
Due to increasing age, the skin becomes more fragile, thus cuts and scrapes can easily occur and can become infected. Even though being older does not necessarily lead to more infections, majority of elderly individuals suffer from chronic diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes that diminishes the immune system defenses of the body against infections. For cuts and scrapes, it is important to perform first aid measures right away to control the bleeding as well as prevent infection from developing.
The elderly are at high risk for falls leading to head injury, lacerations and other fractures in the body. Falls can be due to physical inactivity, poor vision, and immobility, intake of medications or conditions that causes dizziness as well as problems with the balance or gait.
Due to the changes that come with the aging process on the heart and blood vessels, the elderly are at high risk for heart failure, heart attacks and strokes. The common warning symptoms of a heart attack include:
• Discomfort or pain in the chest – majority of heart attacks typically lead to the development of discomfort in the middle or left side of the chest area. It persists for a few minutes and disappears but returns in short while. It feels like fullness, pressure or squeezing. In some cases, it can also feel like heartburn or indigestion.
• Shortness of breath – this can be the only symptom or can occur before or together with chest discomfort or pain. It can occur while at rest or doing an activity.
• Discomfort in the upper body – there is discomfort or pain in one arm or both, shoulders, back, jaw, neck or in the upper area of the stomach.
Cold and heat-related illnesses
As people age, they are more likely to suffer from chronic medical conditions that can impair that normal regulation of temperature. Older individuals are more likely than younger individuals to be taking prescription medications that can disrupt the temperature balance in the body.
Always remember that being prepared for sudden illnesses or injuries is always the key in first aid. If you are living or working with an elderly individual, having a standard first aid kit is enough. In case you are engaged in an outdoor activity, always make sure that you have all the required medical information for the older individuals as well as the prescription medications and necessary medical supplies. Do not forget to bring along sunscreen and adequate water during outdoor activities.