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How To React When A Senior Falls

An elderly person goes to an emergency room every 11 seconds due to a fall.

That same study shared that one in four Americans over the age of 65 falls every year – and fall death rates have increased by 30% according to the CDC.

Caring for the elderly is an enormous responsibility, especially if they live alone. Falls are among the most common reasons seniors visit the emergency room.

In this article, we’ll explore why these situations are so serious, and go through the best-practices for either helping a senior up, or what to do if you fall yourself.

Why Senior Falls are Serious

Seniors have weaker muscles, less flexibility, and declining agility. When a senior falls, they don’t bounce right back up like a younger, more flexible person does.

Their fall may mean broken bones – or worse.

And to make things worse, seniors are often alone when they fall.

If you are responsible for senior care, then fall prevention is the first line of defense. Some preventative measures the senior could take include:

  • Making sure areas such as tubs, showers, and bathrooms have bars to hold unto
  • Use only no-slip rugs or carpeting
  • Install motion sensor lighting for nighttime
  • Wear supportive footwear
  • Installing devices like an Easy Climber Elevator to reduce stair use.
  • Keep walk areas clear and tidy
  • Install rubber no-slip mats on wooden porch and steps, if applicable
  • Keep a mobile phone with you or very close by at all times

The last thing you want is to experience a fall – but it still does happen. With that in mind, here are some tips for either helping a senior that’s fallen (or what to do if you’ve fallen yourself).

Tips for Picking up a Senior Who Has Fallen

Even if you follow all the suggestions above for fall prevention, there are still bound to be accidents at times. The fall risk is reduced but not eliminated.

What should you do if you are caring for a senior and they fall? Here are tips to guide you if you are in charge of elderly care:

Step #1: Don’t panic or become overstressed.

It’s natural to be concerned for a fall victim, but you need to remain calm. Acting stressed or overwhelmed will only cause added anxiety for the fall victim.

Take several deep breaths and guide the senior to do the same. You don’t want the person to have a panic attack or cause stress to the heart.

Step #2: Assess the seriousness of the situation

Examine the senior for bruises, blood, gashes, or any other injuries. These are signs that they need medical attention, and it may be best to leave them until help arrives.

You should also determine their pain levels by asking them how they feel. Get detailed descriptions of the pain, and remember to keep them calm if they are hurting.

Step #3: If you see immediate swelling, bruising, or bad bleeding – call 911.

If they’re seriously injured, your best bet is to get care from a licensed professional. Call 911 and do as the dispatcher instructs you.

If you don’t see any trauma, but the person is groaning in agony and tells you the pain is too unbearable to get up – you should still seek medical attention. It’s better to be safe.

Step #4: If they’re okay, guide them through the process to get up safely.

If the senior feels they are capable of getting up, then proceed to guide them through the process of safely getting up:

  • Place a chair in front of the person and one behind them.
  • Have the person turn to their sides so that they can get into a crawling/kneeling position.
  • Once in a crawling/ kneeling position, have them use the chair in front of them to push themselves up.
  • You will guide the person to lift their body up by steadying themselves with the chair in front of them and then sit back into the chair that is behind them.

Take this slowly, and re-evaluate the fall victim as they correct themselves. They still may need medical attention.

Step #5: Monitor the person closely, and inform their doctor about the fall.

Monitor the person closely for several hours, and then check on them regularly for a few days. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent.

You should also let their doctor know what happened and schedule any visits, if necessary.

How to Get Up if You Have Fallen

Not everyone has in-home care for seniors. If you are one of these seniors who lives alone, then falling has the potential to be more serious.

What should you do if you would happen to fall and you are alone? These steps will guide you to safety:

Step #1: Calm yourself with soothing self-talk and deep breathing

You just fell. It’s a traumatic and often frightening experience.

Start by calming yourself down.

Inhale through the nose, hold for a few seconds, then release/exhale through the mouth.

As you exhale, release the tension from your body.

Even if your fall was bad or you see signs of injury, do not get upset or stressed about the fall. This will only exacerbate the problem.

Step #2: Look for signs of visible injuries

Are you bleeding? Do you see sudden swelling? Are there purple marks?

These are signs of potentially bigger injuries. Even if you feel like you can get up, these signs may indicate that it’s a bad idea. Try to call 911 or for help if you can.

Step #3: If you’re injured or can’t get up, call for help

If you do see signs of injury, think you cannot get up, or are in too much pain to get up, then you need to call for help.

If you have a phone on you, then dial 911.

However, if you don’t have your phone on you, then you have a few options:

  • You can call out for help. This may work if you live in an apartment where people are nearby.
  • You could wait for someone that you know will be arriving soon such as a mail carrier, relative, or neighbor.
  • If you don’t think anyone will be coming by your home soon and you don’t have your phone, then you could attempt to crawl or scoot to wherever your phone is.

Do your best to get help, however that looks. Your best bet is to get into the habit of always having your phone on your wherever you go – no matter what.

Step #4: If you can get up, do it slowly and with support

If you feel you can get up, do so slowly by rolling over to your side and using your arms and something steady to lean on.

The key here is to find something to support yourself – and to ensure that you don’t fall down again (which may create further issues). It’s often best to call for help regardless, just to be safe.

Conclusion

Caring for the elderly is a big responsibility, especially with the fall risk being so high.

Many families find peace of mind by providing in-home care for their loved ones, or by adding devices that help them navigate high-risk areas of their home.

These help with fall prevention and ensure your senior loved one is not alone in the event of a fall.

Whatever you decide to do – be prepared to help however you can. Falls are serious, and you don’t want to be caught unaware.