Practical tips to help first responders when assisting seniors.
First Responders and seniors encounter each other frequently in Fort Myers and Cape Coral simply based on the population of the area. These helpful tips can help first responders and seniors in the event of an emergency.
With the number of Senior Citizens in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Lee County it only makes sense that first responders (such as Lee County EMS) will inevitably assist older adults frequently. Even when using private care, seniors can be at risk for falls and/or injuries requiring professional assistance. Often first responders are the individuals tasked with evaluating a situation and making important decisions. However first responders and seniors don’t always understand what they need.
The following are recommendations for first responders and seniors. Because of the specific needs of this vulnerable demographic, these recommendations can help guide how best to assist those who need support.
Always ask the senior how you can best assist them.
- Some elderly persons may respond more slowly to a crisis and may not fully understand the extent of the emergency. Repeat questions and answers if necessary. Be patient! Taking time to listen carefully or to explain again may take less time than dealing with a confused person who may be less willing to cooperate.
- Taking the time in advance to help explain a situation is always preferable to managing a confused, scared, and potentially compromised individual. First responders and seniors can help one another by understanding this.
Reassure the senior that they will receive medical assistance without fear of being placed in a nursing home.
- Many seniors fear they will be placed in a nursing home. First responders and seniors share an important trust.
- Even if a senior does need additional in-home assistance you can always refer to services like Abby Services to help get seniors the private care they need to remain independent and in their home.
Older people may fear being removed from their homes.
- Be sympathetic and understanding and explain that this relocation is temporary.
- With minimal additional assistance, seniors can often age in place for as long as they choose. Abby Services can help.
Before moving an elderly person, assess their ability to see and hear; adapt rescue techniques for sensory impairments.
- Disabilities such as vision and hearing impairment can be overlooked in an emergency situation. This can lead to unnecessary stress and confusion.
- Persons with a hearing loss may appear disoriented and confused when all that is really “wrong” is that they can’t hear you. Determine if the person has a hearing aid. If they do, is it available and working? If it isn’t, can you get a new battery to make it work?
- If the person has a vision loss, identify yourself and explain why you are there. Let the person hold your arm and then guide them to safety.
If possible, gather all medications before evacuating.
- Ask the senior what medications they are taking and where their medications are stored. Most people keep all their medications in one location in their homes.
- Often Seniors take many medications that are easily confused. Bringing the medications will help medical professionals determine what medications they are taking. This will help guide their care and treatment.
If the senior citizen has dementia.
- Turn off emergency lights and sirens if possible. Identify yourself and explain why you are there.
- Speak slowly, using short words in a calm voice. Ask “yes” or “no” questions: repeat them if necessary. Maintain eye contact.
As always, Abby Services is on call 24/7 to assist patients, their loved ones, and their families find the best private caregivers. If you encounter a senior who needs in-home assistance Just call 239-590-0861!