Your Career After CNA Training: Preventing Aspiration in Elderly Patients

cna trainingAfter CNA Training

Once you complete your CNA training and are working, you will be feeding patients on a regular basis. Often you will have a number of patients to hand feed each meal. It is very important that you take time and pay attention to how the patient chews and swallows. If you hear any coughing or gagging or if the patient drools a lot, there could be a problem. Aspiration occurs when a patient improperly swallows food, drink or saliva and it ends up in their lungs. This can create many health problems and needs to be prevented. There are a few things you learned during your school that will help though you may not have learned why you do them.

CNA Training and Hand Feeding

While you were in CNA training you had the opportunity to hand feed a few patients. Some of the techniques you were taught will help avoid aspiration.

  • Check the patient’s mouth for loose teeth or dentures before you begin feeding them.
  • Make sure the patient is awake and alert.
  • Feed small amounts at a time. Even though it will take longer for them to finish a meal, do not overfill the spoon or fork.
  • Talk to them while they are eating and remind them to chew each bite carefully.
  • Unless they cannot be in an upright position for medical reasons, make sure the patient is sitting up without falling forward.

Continue to Learn After CNA Training

Just because you have your certificate of completion and are officially a CNA training graduate does not mean there is nothing more to learn. Your formal CNA training may be over, but you need to be alert and learning all the time on the job. You will notice that every patient is different and needs to be taken care of accordingly. Pay attention to your patients after they have eaten. Make sure they do not bring any food back up and aspirate on it. If you see they are trying to cough something up, go to them and make sure they are upright and call for help. Knowing how each patient acts normally will enable you to know when there is something wrong.

CNA Training – Aspiration and Tube-Feeding

Your CNA training may or may not have included feeding through a nasogastric tube. Just because their meals are being forced directly into their stomach does not mean they cannot aspirate it back up and into their lungs. Any time you notice a patient that is being tube-fed chewing, you need to check their mouth.

It is not only elderly or tube-fed patients that can have trouble eating. Any patient that is on medications could very easily choke or aspirate on their food. If you even suspect that the patient has taken anything into their lungs it is imperative you notify a nurse. It could cause pneumonia or an infection in their lungs if it is not removed. Doing the Heimlich maneuver may not be enough to dislodge the piece and a procedure beyond CNA training will need to be performed.

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