My wonderful Mum died on Sunday, she was very much loved and truly one in a million.
I would like to dedicate my post this week to all the Home Carers, Relatives, Care Home Workers and Professional Carers to thank them for the amazing work they do. Hopefully this article will give some helpful advice for those doing such an incredibly difficult and sometimes thankless task. You cannot overestimate the importance of the work you do and the difference you make to all involved.
More than 500,000 people aged over 65 years of age attend accident and emergency departments every year as the result of an accident in their home – the majority of these being falls.
Although most falls do not result in a serious injury, if the casualty is unable to get up following their fall they are more likely to suffer hypothermia and pressure sores. Most serious accidents in the elderly result from falls on the stairs or from steps with over 60 per cent of deaths resulting from accidents on stairs.
As we get older we are more prone to falling as we forget that we cannot respond as quickly as we used to if we trip or overbalance. As our eyesight deteriorates it is easier to miss a step.
- Items should never be left on the stairs as it is too easy to trip over them.
- Damaged carpet should always be replaced and avoid repetitive carpet patterns as these can affect perception and make it more difficult to see individual stairs.
- Ensure landings, stairs and hallways are well lit with two-way light switches.
- Ensure banisters are secure and sturdy, two easy-grip handrails gives more stability.
General help and advice to prevent injuries:
- As we get older we are more prone to lose our balance through sudden movements, e.g. getting out of bed or a chair too quickly – this is often more apparent if taking medication for high blood pressure. Getting up very slowly and bringing the head up last, can reduce the dizzy effects of postural hypotension.
- Floors and surfaces should be as clear as possible as worn rugs, slippery floors and paths, uneven surfaces, trailing flexes, and items left lying around make falling far more likely.
- Look carefully at footwear – ill- fitting shoes that have lost their grip, or old slippers are often the cause of a fall.
- Grab rails and places to sit down in the bathroom and kitchen can be really helpful if someone suddenly feels dizzy.
- Floors should be cleaned carefully to ensure that they are not slippery and it is really important that any spillages are immediately and thoroughly removed.
8 Top Tips following a fall:
Advice following a fall:
- Stay as calm as you can and don’t rush to get the casualty upright – take time, be reassuring and carefully establish from head to toe whether or not they are hurt.
- Find something to hold onto and something soft for the elderly person to kneel on while you help them to get themselves up.
- Encourage them to get up very slowly leaning forward onto their knees, with the cushioning beneath them and holding onto something solid to help themselves up.
- Ensure they take time to recover and phone their next of kin to tell them what happened.
- Do not move them unless they are unconscious and breathing and you need to put them into the recovery position to protect their airway – if you do need to do this, roll them very carefully supporting their hand under their cheek as you roll them over.
- Keep them warm and comfortable until help arrives
- If they are conscious encourage them to gently shift their position to avoid pressure sores and their limbs from stiffening up.
- Get any grazes or cuts checked by a medical professional – particularly on shins as it is important that they are appropriately assessed, cleaned and dressed to avoid getting leg ulcers.
Burns and scalds
It is frighteningly easy to suffer a nasty burn or scald
Be particularly careful with kettles and flexes. Ensure that kettles and cups are not filled too full.
- Discourage the use of hot water bottles as they are difficult to fill and are liable to perish, making them dangerous. Hot water bottles should never be filled with boiling water.
- Rearrange tea and coffee making facilities to avoid carrying hot liquids further than necessary. A trolley can be useful to independently transport tea pots and cups to where you wish to drink it.
- Fit a thermostatic mixing valve to bath taps and ensure that the temperature is set below 46° C, when running a bath, turn the cold water on first
- Always use rear hot plates and turn the pan handles away from the front of the cooker
- Ensure that there is a mains operated smoke alarm (and carbon monoxide sensor) professionally fitted and regularly checked.
- Be careful when smoking and disposing of cigarette stubs, don’t smoke in bed.
- Ensure electric blankets are in good condition and regularly checked
- Elderly skin becomes thinner and an elderly person can suffer a nasty burn from a hot drink that has been made many minutes earlier.
- If someone is diabetic their nerve endings may well have become damaged and they may not feel that something is burning them until it has done serious damage.
- Run the affected area immediately under cool running water for at least 10 minutes and get medical help. Keep the area under cool running water until the help arrives. Keep the casualty warm and dry and just cool the burnt area. Look out for signs of shock and phone and ambulance if worried.
- Never put any creams or potions onto a burn or pop any blisters. Burns should always be assessed by a medical professional. Do not rush to dress a burn – always ensure it has been run under cool running water for at least 20 minutes if you intend to dress it. Do not remove any clothing if it is sticking to the skin, loose clothing and jewellery should be taken off. Once properly cooled; a burn can be loosely dressed with a small piece of cling film from an inner part of the roll and then covered with cold wet towels and the casualty taken to hospital or to the GP for them to dress it properly. If concerned – do not hesitate to phone an ambulance.
If you want to learn more about this topic, we suggest you this article from our archive
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical or undertake an online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit firstaidforlife.org.uk for more information about our practical courses specifically designed for Carers and click here for information about our onlinefirstaid courses for Carers.
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.