You don't need any special first aid skills beyond standard first aid and CPR to care for people aged 65 and older. But it is important to understand that with increasing age, people are more vulnerable to accidents and injuries that may require first aid care. Knowing some of the common medical situations that may occur in the elderly population will help you to be on the alert for them. Some health conditions you may encounter with seniors include:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of three adults aged 65 and older fall each year, often resulting in lacerations, hip or other fractures, and head injury. Falls are related to poor vision, physical inactivity or immobility, conditions or medications that cause dizziness, and problems with balance.
Cuts and Scrapes
The skin becomes more fragile with age, resulting in cuts and scrapes that are susceptible to becoming infected. While just being older doesn't cause infections, many older adults have chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, which decrease the body's immune system defenses against infections.
Age-related changes in the heart and blood vessels put seniors at greater risk for heart attacks and heart failure, as well as strokes.
Heat- and Cold-Related Illness
With increasing age, people are more likely to have chronic medical conditions that impair temperature regulation. And seniors are more likely than their younger counterparts to be taking prescription medications that disturb temperature balance.
Preparation for sudden illness or injury is key in first aid. When working with the elderly, a standard first aid kit (see Emergency Kit for the Home) is sufficient. If on an outing, you'll want to make sure that you have appropriate medical information for each participant (see Travel First Aid) as well as each person's prescription medications and supplies. And make sure to bring sunscreen if you'll be outdoors, as well as plenty of water!