Older people’s skin is thinner and can become papery, particularly on the shins and arms. It is very easy for them to catch themselves on things and it can take a long time to heal. If an elderly person on warfarin, they are also more likely to bleed, and when someone is extremely cold, blood takes longer to clot.
Varicose veins are vulnerable to rupture, particularly if something like a shopping trolley or wheel chair rams into the back of the calf. They will bleed profusely and it is a serious medical emergency that is likely to need hospital treatment.
Look for hazards at shin-level and ensure they are made safe. Older people may need help keeping their finger and toe nails short; long nails can lead to them injuring themselves.
Be vigilant for early signs of pressure sores, if people are sitting or lying for prolonged lengths of time without moving themselves sufficiently they will develop pressure sores. Incontinence will also make this more likely. It is important to discuss this with the GP and they can help with referrals for pressure-relieving mattresses, cushions and other devices to prevent pressure sores occurring in the first place.
Be very careful to avoid injuries from shopping trolleys, pushchairs and wheelchairs. They can easily rupture varicose veins if they hit an elderly person in the calf.
If someone does hurt themselves and it is taking a long time to heal, they should see their GP to ensure the injury is assessed properly and to avoid long-term leg ulcers.
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. It is strongly advised that you attend a first aid course or do one online to understand what to do in a medical emergency.
Introducing a comprehensive guide to accident prevention and treatment in the older generation; Slips, Trips and Fractured Hips by Emma Hammett RGN. This book has been written for people caring for older friends and relatives; children caring for elderly parents, for spouses, for older people wanting to keep themselves that bit safer and for anyone working with or caring for older people. It is designed to help you take measures to prevent life-threatening injuries and help you plan, prepare and avoid mishap, as well as equip you with the necessary skills should an accident occur.