When caring for seniors, a primary concern is training home caregivers in the appropriate types of first aid. While no one wants to think about injuries, it is a home caregiver's job to plan ahead for emergency situations and know how to administer proper first aid for seniors and other clients.
There are several common accidents among seniors that should definitely fall into every home caregiver's emergency preparedness plan and a few less common events that are equally important. With proper training in first aid for seniors, the home caregiver can put these plans into action and can even save lives. The best first aid is preventing accidents and injuries in the first place, so knowing what to look for and how to circumvent these incidents is vitally important to the individual caring for seniors.
(The following ideas and information are in no way a replacement for an actual first aid course. If you are a home caregiver or are caring for seniors, proper first aid training is very important.)
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are very common among the senior population. While a younger individual can bounce back quickly after these accidents, seniors are more likely to suffer severe injuries, including broken bones or lacerations. These accidents are more common in seniors due to limited mobility, failing vision, and underlying health concerns, such as blood pressure variations.
To prevent these accidents:
Ensure that call lights or other methods of signaling for attention are easily within reach.
Remove obstacles on the floor, such as power cords, floor mats and clutter.
Clean up spills or debris quickly.
Keep outside paths clear of snow and ice.
Utilize shower seats and handles where possible.
If a fall should occur:
Assess the victim before moving them. Look for extremities that are turned at odd angles, bleeding, bruising or other signs of trauma and injury. If there are possible neck or head injuries or if there are exposed bones, DO NOT move them until emergency responders arrive.
Ask a coworker or someone in the home to call 911 or another emergency number, if necessary. After this is done, contact your home care agency to alert them of the situation.
Ask the victim about pain. If they exhibit signs of pain while moving them, stop immediately. A broken bone can easily be made worse by movement. If the victim is not transported out for further medical care, continue to ask about pain levels regularly. Sometimes, the intial shock of the fall will cause an older individual not to register pain until some time after the incident.
Look for bleeding. If there is any bleeding, use proper universal precautions and attempt to stop the flow of blood by applying pressure to the wound using sterile gauze and a gloved hand.
Take and record a full set of vital signs including blood pressure, respiration, pulse, temperature and O2 levels before and after moving the victim, if this is your company policy. If the senior is not transported out for medical care, continue to monitor these vital signs every hour.
Watch for behavioral and physical changes, including slurring of speech, combative behaviors or changes in pupil dilation, as these could be signs of injury.
Due to decreased motor function and failing reflexes, seniors are also prone to choking. This can result in very severe injuries and, in some cases, the first aid procedures themselves, such as the Heimlich Maneuver, can result in additional, albeit necessary, injuries as well.
To Prevent Choking:
Cut food into small manageable pieces or offer assistance to your client at meal times.
Do not leave a client unattended during meal times.
Try to avoid hard candies and other small food items that could present a choking hazard. If these cannot be avoided, monitor your clients carefully.
If a senior in your care is choking, you may not realize it. Watch for these signs:
If a choking incident happens, quick reaction is vital. It is very important to have first aid training that teaches you how to handle a situation in which a senior is choking.
Poisoning is a preventable accident that can happen in a variety of ways. One of the most common poisonings in seniors is medication overdose or mistaken medications. To prevent this, keep medications in a clearly marked container and monitor seniors when they are taking their medication.
Unfortunately, not all poisonings can be treated with the same first aid techniques so it is important to get emergency medical help involved as quickly as possible.
If poisoning occurs:
Call 911, Poison Control Center or other emergency numbers immediately.
Document as much information as possible about the poisoning, including dosages and the specific substance.
Follow all instructions given by the emergency line operator for dealing with the specific poisoning.
Senior Care and First Aid Training For Home Caregivers
While caring for seniors is a very rewarding occupation, it also bears a lot of responsibility. By making sure that your home caregiving team is properly trained in accident prevention and first aid for home caregivers, you can ensure the health and well being of your clients even when an emergency situation arises.
Alegre Home Care provides numerous types of training for home caregivers, including senior care and first aid. If you would like to work for a reputable home care agency or would like to hire a home caregiver from Alegre Home Care, please contact us today!