What To Do When An Elderly Individual Is Choking

*if you are in the presence of a choking individual please stop reading and immediately call 999. They will guide you through the process. This blog is for future reference and training purposes only.

Firstly, how does an elderly individual begin to choke?

Choking occurs when an airway is suddenly blocked and breathing becomes restricted or non-existent. This can be because of food, liquids or objects which have become lodged in the throat. The elderly have tendencies to chew food faster or take bigger mouthfuls. Therefore, increasing the risk of choking in the older generation

There are various types of choking and different actions to accompany them:

Mild Choking

This is where the airways are partially blocked. Breathing, speaking, crying, or coughing usually can still take place during this time.

What should I do I this situation?

For mild choking you need to encourage the person in danger to cough.

Through coughing they may be able to dislodge the blockage themselves. Do not attempt to place your fingers in their mouth as they may bite you accidentally!

If the blockage becomes free ask them to spit it out immediately. If coughing does not work, the individual is severely choking. Therefore, you must proceed to back blows.

Severe Choking

Unlike mild choking, breathing, speaking, crying, or coughing may not be possible. Unconsciousness may occur if help does not arrive quickly. Back blows should be carried out on any choking adult or any child over the age of one.

How should a back blow be carried out?

You should be stood behind them and slightly to one side of their body. It is vital that you support their chest with one hand.

You need lean the endangered person forwards and give five sharp blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.

If you spot the that the blockage has been cleared, you take precautions when handling the individual.

However, if you find the blockage remains repeat another five back blows. Abdominal thrusts also can be given but not to babies under one year old or pregnant women.

How do I carry out an abdominal thrust?

You should stand behind the person who is choking and place your arms around their waist and bend them forwards.

By clenching one fist and place it right above their belly button, you should pull sharply upwards an inward with the remaining hand on your fist.

You should be repeating this action five times. If the individual’s airway is still blocked after trying both back blows and abdominal thrusts, you need to get help immediately.

Call 999 and ask for an ambulance. By telling the operator that the person is choking, you will become priority. Whilst help is on its way, repeat with cycles of five back blows and five abdominal thrusts.

Here at The Training Initiative, we offer specialist first aid courses that can be tailored specifically to you and your field of work.

This is Rich Whittingham, our dedicated first aid trainer. He has years of experience regarding all things first aid. Our courses can be face-to-face sessions or on-demand videos where you can access them whenever is suitable to you!

Below we have embedded a popular on-demand video of Rich’s regarding a section on choking. Rich provides a detailed tutorial on what to do when someone is choking!

If you would like to watch any other on-demand First Aid ideas from us at The Training Initiative, don’t hesitate to get in contact. We will be happy to help!

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