As the global population ages , the percentage of old patients accessing medical care also increases . They face various health problems, which can lead to emergencies such as stroke, hypoglycaemia in people with diabetes, hip injuries due to falls, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), and similar [1, 3]. Due to the increased risk, elderly people are a vulnerable group of the population [4, 1]. Their vulnerability increases with natural and other disasters, leading to higher mortality of the elderly population [5, 6, 7]. After disasters, the elderly face more problems than other age groups . They are more likely to face a variety of health and mobility problems, such as inadequate financial resources, lack of personal transport, and insufficient social networks [9, 10]. After earthquakes, the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder is higher among the elderly than among other age groups . In both the societal and the scientific dialogues surrounding the COVID pandemic, however, older people have been treated as vulnerable, helpless, and in need of society’s protection . They are the main target group of most of the policies due to their high risk of presenting complications from COVID-19 . One of the primary protective measures during the pandemic is physical distance. The physical distancing regulations instituted to control COVID-19 have had significant psychosocial consequences . While robust social restrictions (quarantine and social distancing) are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is critical to bear in mind that social distancing should not be the same as social disconnection [14, 15]. During the COVID pandemic, social disconnection causes loneliness and social isolation , defined as an objective lack of interactions with others or the wider community . However, social isolation among older adults is also a ‘serious public health concern’ because of their heightened risk of cardiovascular, immune, neurocognitive, and mental health problems . Notably, there is a large body of literature documenting the negative health effects of social isolation [17, 18]. Forced isolation, loneliness, and fear of contracting the disease are tough challenges, especially for frail, elderly people [19, 20, 21, 22]. In contrast, people with adequate social relationships have a greater likelihood of survival compared to those with poor or insufficient social relationships . It has recently been documented that social distancing during COVID-19 pandemic also negatively affects mental and physical health in older people . Health problems, which can lead to emergencies, are greatest burden for the elderly during times of social isolation. Before the pandemic, most cardiac arrest victims were in their late sixties, 85% of them collapse at home, and half are witnessed by a family member or friend who usually is over the age of 55 . Notably, higher numbers of OHCA in 2020, coupled with a reduction in short-term outcomes, were correlated to the COVID-19 pandemic [26, 27, 28, 29, 30]. The lockdown, as well as the spread of COVID-19 among healthcare workers, led to a reduction, and in some cases to the suppression, of home care services (day-care, home care assistance, Alzheimer services) usually provided to frail older people . This situation presents unique problems to healthcare providers and systems . Therefore, in the current situation, promoting self-help and positive coping and reducing isolation appear imperative. Active outreach seems a necessity, especially for older adults .
In times of social isolation, the elderly are even more dependent on self-help or mutual help between relatives. Early identification and action in terms of first aid (FA), in the most common emergencies that threaten an individual’s health or life, affects the outcome of these conditions . In order to increase general awareness about emergency medical FA measures, public education is required. The knowledge of FA can be a great help to elderly people in the case of injury or acute disease. However, the effective educational planning relies on an accurate assessment of the baseline knowledge of the population . Therefore, we aimed to examine the knowledge of FA in the most common emergencies that threaten an elderly’s health or life among the Slovenian population, focusing on elderly people’s knowledge. The conclusions could guide the future framework of policy orientations on how to improve FA knowledge and confidence for giving FA among elderly people.