If you stopped someone and asked them who they thought was most at risk of choking to death, the answer would probably be either a baby, or a child. The numbers however, tell us something different.
Data from the ONS on cause of death which specifically included choking, highlighted the common held belief is incorrect. In general, the older you are the more likely you are to die from choking.
There are a number of causes in the increased risk, some of which are fairly obvious.
There are a multiple conditions which can make swallowing difficult, and given that this we breathe and eat through the same point, this will naturally cause problems.
Many of these conditions are associated with an increase in age, e.g. Dysphagia, COPD, lack of saliva production etc.
When delivering Choking Basic Life Support (BSL) the guidance calls for Back Blows and Abdominal Thrusts (aka Heimlich Manoeuvre) to be delivered on an individual when they are standing.
There is no guidance on how to assist an individual who cannot stand up, presenting an obvious challenge to those attempting to remove the obstruction.
Anyone, not just the elderly, will also present a similar challenge if they are unable to support themselves and rely perhaps on a moulded chair, walker or are bed bound.
There is significant amount of emphasis placed on what types of food are given to younger children and babies. Early Years Settings are required to have a specific choking policy.