first aid kit

How Caregivers Can Use First Aid Kits to Properly Care for Older Adults

It pays to be as prepared as possible whether you have a little or a lot of experience being a senior caregiver. Some days are more hectic than others. On those busy days, you’ll want to be sure that you have a first-aid kit handy for unexpected emergencies.

we will cover in this article

Why Seniors are More Prone to Accidents?

Elderly adults are more susceptible to injuries and accidents because of issues like:

  • Immobility
  • Weakness
  • Brittle bones
  • Disorientation
  • Skin disorders
  • Vision impairments
  • Hearing impairments

Moreover, senior loved ones often heal slower, which is another reason a first aid kit is paramount to providing proper care for them. First aid kits for seniors can prevent small injuries from becoming more serious.

First Aid Kits

Keeping a well-stocked first aid kit on hand is essential, especially if you are caring for an older adult. A variety of first aid kits are inexpensive and available at almost any grocery store, pharmacy, or department store.

Being prepared is paramount during emergencies, so check your first-aid kit for some essential materials that should be inside of your first aid kit:

  • Thermometer
  • Antibiotic Ointment & Wipes
  • Sterile Gloves
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Aspirin,/li>
  • Band-Aids
  • Gauze & Surgical Tape
  • Medication List (Dosages & Frequencies)

Be sure to store your first-aid kit in a central location where you can access it easily in the event of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to check the items in the kit for expiration dates and replace items that are out of date.

Another helpful tip is to keep a listing for emergencies handy that includes:

  • Insurance information
  • Health conditions
  • Current medications
  • Contact information for doctors and hospitals
  • Emergency contacts
  • Persons to notify in the event of an emergency

The Purpose for First-Aid Kits

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 25% of adults aged 60 or older take a tumble each year, causing bone fractures, head traumas, or puncture wounds. [i] A hand first-aid kit can be a life-saver until a senior can get emergency assistance.

First-aid kits help caregivers in the event of unexpected injuries that are common for seniors including:

  • Falls
  • Poisoning
  • Punctures and wounds
  • Burns

Falls

Falls are a common issue with seniors. Because of physical vulnerabilities they are more inclined to experience cuts, sprains, and broken bones during a fall. If a senior isn’t able to get up with assistance after a fall, call 911.

Use items in your first aid kit to clean wounds, stop bleeding, and help the senior feel comfortable until help arrives. Don’t try to lift of move the senior on your own because it could make the injury worse, especially if the senior complains of back or neck pain. [ii]

Poisoning

Age sometimes accompanies dementia or forgetfulness. As a result, seniors may accidentally take the wrong medication or the wrong dosage. In advanced stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, seniors may try to drink unsafe liquids such as household cleaners or other liquids that are unsafe for consumption. Place hazardous liquids in a locked cabinet or put them out of the senior’s reach.

All homes should have installed a carbon monoxide detector. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move the senior out of the home and call 911.
In the even that you suspect a senior loved one (or anyone) has been poisoned, do the following:

  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222
  • Or call 911
  • Have the pill bottle in hand for reference when you call for help
  • Locate your list of emergency contact numbers and have it handy

If you know that a senior has been poisoned, call or seek emergency help even if they seem fine. It’s better to get help right away and not need it than to be sorry that you didn’t act sooner.

Punctures and Wounds

Punctures and wounds, no matter how small, should be cleaned with plain soap and water. Once the area has been cleaned and the bleeding has stopped, you can provide care to your loved one by applying antibiotic ointment to the wound. If your loved one complains of pain or infection, and the wound does not appear to be healing properly, seek medical care.

Burns

Caregivers need to be aware of certain situations that can cause burns on the person they care for. Think about such situations as:

  • Bath or shower water that’s too hot
  • Overly hot food
  • Turning on the stove
  • Touching a heater or space heater
  • Too much time in the sun

The caregiver role involves taking precautions to minimize possible burns. If the burn is minor, use antibiotic wipes or creams and burn ointment to soothe the pain. Cover the wound with gauze and tape. Offer a mild pain reliever for pain, if needed.

For severe burns, don’t hesitate to seek emergency help.

First Aid Kit for the Elderly

In addition to the basic items that we listed for a first aid kit, add these items to your first aid kit to better prepare for any emergency that you encounter as a senior caregiver: [iii]

  • Cold pack
  • Band-aids in assorted sizes including large ones for knees and elbows
  • Thermal patches
  • Fever reducing medication
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Antihistamines
  • Calamine lotion
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Ace wrap bandages
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Eyewash and eye drops
  • Ear wax remover
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Books and guides on emergency care

Here’s a few more tips for your first-aid kit for the elderly. Remember to restock supplies that you’ve used. Add an automatic reminder to your calendar to check your first aid kit monthly for items that are expired.

Make sure that you leave a note for any substitute caregivers about where to find the first aid kit and the emergency contact information.

Assure yourself that you are doing your very best to provide excellent care for the senior you’re caring for.

Sources:

[i] https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
[ii] https://www.cprcertified.com/blog/first-aid-tips-for-caregivers
[iii] http://www.healthline.com/health/first-aid/first-aid-for-seniors#heat-and-coldrelated-illness4