As an informal caregiver, you want to do what you can to protect the life and health of your loved one, but without medical training, you may not know how. Fortunately, you don’t need to go through years of intense training and medical school to do so. There is a multitude of online and face-to-face courses that make learning life-saving maneuvers accessible and easy to learn—but what skills should you learn? Let’s take a look at a few first-aid skills every caregiver should have to help you find the right medical training for you and your loved one.
The Abdominal Thrust
Once called the Heimlich, the abdominal thrust is a life-saving maneuver that can dislodge an airway obstruction. Many ailments cause dysphagia or weakening of the mouth and throat muscles, but anyone can experience choking. In fact, one of the leading causes of choking in adults is eating too fast. No matter whom you care for or what demographic they belong to, knowing how to perform the abdominal thrust is critical.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, widely known as CPR, is an emergency procedure that uses compressions to mimic how the heart pumps. By conducting CPR, you can save the life of a person whose heart has stopped or who has stopped breathing. While CPR can restart the heart, you should always call emergency services, as the patient will likely still need advanced medical treatment.
Bruises and Cuts
Bruises and cuts may not seem like critical medical issues, but for some, they can be. For those on blood thinners or for those with ailments that cause them to bleed easily, a bruise can cause massive bleeding and blood clots. Additionally, a small cut may not cause significant blood loss, but in the right circumstances, it can cause an infection in those with weakened immune systems.
The Recovery Position
If someone is unresponsive but breathing normally, it’s important to put them into the recovery position as soon as possible. The recovery position allows the airway to remain open and clear so that vomit and saliva don’t cause the person to choke. However, the recovery position is not always helpful, as movement can worsen certain injuries. The right training can help you assess when putting someone in the recovery position would be helpful rather than harmful.
When To Call 911
No matter how much first-aid training you have, there are situations that a caregiver cannot handle alone. Learning how to survey and analyze a situation under pressure and determine whether you can appropriately intervene is the most important first-aid skill every caregiver should have. This isn’t an easy thing to learn how to do, as caring for a loved one inherently involves deep and complex feelings. However, learning when to step back and ask for help can prevent worsening injuries and even save lives.