Today we’ll take a deep dive into AEDs and the Elderly: What to Consider. SCA or sudden cardiac arrest is one of the world’s biggest health emergencies – around 15-20% of all deaths around the world are due to SCA. People over the age of 40 are more prone to suffering from an SCA, but younger generations are not excluded, either.
In a scenario when an elderly person falls into cardiac arrest, a split second can make all the difference in the survival chances. In most cases, CPR is not enough, hence the need to have a life-saving device such as an AED. This can mean a cardiac arrest victim survives long enough for the emergency team to arrive.
Since AEDs are portable and easy to use, owning one can prove to be a life-saving investment. But what makes an AED so important in elderly care? Moreover, how do you choose the right AED?
This article will elaborate on the importance of AEDs for the elderly, as well as what to look for while choosing.
The Benefits of Owning an AED for The Elderly
When it comes to the elderly, they should be more careful with their health than the rest of the age groups. Since our bodies lose aptitude and flexibility with age, our immune system needs special boosts and proper care.
Other than typical age-related illnesses, like hearing loss and cataracts, the elderly also suffer from a number of other health-deteriorating issues, like dementia, heart attacks, and so on. To that extent, owning an AED is that much more important.
The following are only several of the key benefits of the elderly owning an AED:
- Improved survival rates: Over the years, automatic external defibrillators have been shown to increase the chances of survival in the case of a sudden cardiac arrest. In general, in the event of SCA, with every passing minute in which an AED isn’t used, the survival rates drop by 10%.
- Life-saving treatment is within reach: When it comes to elderly care, being able to act instantaneously can make all the difference. By owning an AED, bystanders are able to act fast and efficiently instead of just waiting for an ambulance to arrive and bring the patient back to safety.
- AEDs are easy to use: One of the major perks of AEDs is that anyone can easily operate them. Since they come in a semi-automatic and fully automated variant, the elderly can choose the most fitted option for them. The automatic version needs no user interference, whereas the semi-automatic AEDs work by simply pressing a button.
- They are portable: Due to the fact that AEDs run on batteries instead of electricity, the elderly can have an easy time starting the device without worrying about finding a power outlet in the nick of time. Plus, the lightweight and compact design allows for easy handling that won’t burden even the frailest of people.
Using an AED on the Elderly
Let’s take a closer look at AEDs and the elderly, what’s there to consider? As we discussed, older people are more prone to suffering a sudden cardiac arrest, which makes the need for owning an AED that much more vital. But is it absolutely safe to use an AED on a senior citizen of poor overall health with other underlying conditions?
If you happen to be around an elderly person that has fallen into cardiac arrest, know that every second counts. If you’re the one operating the AED, make sure you first determine whether the device is automatic or semi-automatic (there should be clear labeling on the casing). Next, the faster you use the defibrillator, the greater the chances for survival.
Another important consideration for using an AED on an elderly person is whether they are fitted with pacemakers. In that case, follow the guidelines below.
Using an AED on the Elderly Fitted With a Pacemaker
Senior citizens are often fitted with pacemakers to keep their heart health in line. According to the American College of Cardiology, more than 200,000 pacemakers are implanted in patients in the U.S. every year. Fortunately, using an AED on a pacemaker patient is possible.
If you aren’t sure if the person suffering from an SCA is a pacemaker-implant patient, look for a small bulge on the left side of their chest, just under the collarbone. However, when looking for this sign, remember not to waste more time than absolutely necessary, as each second counts.
Choosing the Right AED
Luckily for everyone, AEDs nowadays are designed to deliver a defibrillating shock only when necessary, which makes the device suitable for everyone to handle – no prior knowledge is needed. Of course, having some sort of training in CPR or first aid can be of great help; still, you don’t have to be trained to use an AED, as the device is pretty much self-explanatory.
But you should know that there are several types of AED from which you can choose from. Picking the right type of AED is possible only for at-home automated external defibrillators. Medical professionals use different kinds of AEDs, while the rest of the population is free to purchase an AED for personal use according to their needs and personal preferences.
In general, the most common distinction between AEDs is automated and semi-automated. The first variant conveys the action automatically with no need for human interference. The device will detect irregularities and deliver shocks at a predetermined shocking power. The latter variant will assess the condition of the SAC victim and prompt the user to press a button to start the defibrillating process.
When it comes to choosing an AED for an elderly person, considering the size of the display is also of key importance. However, there are a few other elements that you need to bear in mind before purchasing this device.
Reliability and Maintenance
AEDs are live-saving medical gadgets that can help sustain a patient’s heart health at least until professionals arrive. A reliable AED is one that delivers accurate readings and clear instructions. Before purchasing an AED, look into the track record of the device as well as the reliability of the manufacturer.
To keep an AED functional, mind the following guidelines:
- Store it in a visible location that’s easy to access quickly;
- Make sure the batteries are always correctly inserted;
- Check if the indicator light works;
- Look for external cracks.
Cost and Accessibility
It’s not surprising that the cost of automated external defibrillators discourages many from purchasing them. On average, a new AED can cost anywhere from $1,400 to more than $2,500, depending on its features and manufacturer. However, with such prices in mind, finding the right balance of benefits and costs can make an educated purchase.
Accessibility-wise, it’s vital that you choose an AED model that’s conveniently compact and easily handled.
All AEDs are designed in a way to assess a person’s cardiac rhythm and prompt you to deliver a shock. Today, different fully automated and semi-automatic AEDs can either guide you through the process or carry out the action automatically.
An AED is considered efficient if it doesn’t lag and reads accurate metrics. To ensure these parameters, look for AED manufacturers with a positive track record, or do some research to find user reviews.
Different types of AEDs come with different shocking powers, and there’s usually a maximum limit to how many joules can be delivered via a shock. Typically, AEDs have a shocking power ranging from 200 to 360 joules. If you aren’t sure which is the optimal energy output, ask the provider which model they would recommend for elderly people to use.
Understanding AEDs and the Elderly: What to Consider
Reaching a certain age in life does not have to mean a lesser quality of life. In other words, whether cardiac arrests, heart diseases, or age-related illnesses have struck an individual, it’s good to know that there’s something to be done.
As a life-saving device, automatic external defibrillators can make a life-or-death situation manageable, at least until professional help arrives. If someone happens to fall into sudden cardiac arrest and they own a defibrillator, then their chances of survival are likely to be higher than those that don’t own this device.
Whether you’re in your 40s, 60s, or further down the lane, owning an AED is probably the most practical investment you can make. The good news is that you don’t need rigorous training to learn how to use one – today, a lot of CPR courses teach this method too! This should help you understand AEDs and what to consider when it comes to using it on the Elderly.