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What to do if an older person falls down

Falling down can be a bit of a shock, for observers and the older person. Find out how to help them back up when they’re fallen.

January 22, 2021

Teenager help elderly grandparent

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes.

As people get older, their chances of falling over can increase. According to the NHS, around one in three adults over 65 could experience at least one fall a year.[1]

This may be due to the effects of medication, lack of balance, poor vision or long-term health conditions such as low blood pressure and heart disease.

While the prospect of falling can be scary for you as an observer and for your older relative, it shouldn’t be something that frequently weighs on your mind. There are certain preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a fall occurring and could stop you from worrying about a parent or grandparent:

  • There are also elderly SOS alarms that can give you added reassurance should a fall occur.
  • These alarms, also sometimes called elderly SOS personal alarms, can be worn around the neck or wrist and will alert an emergency team when pressed.
  • This means that, if the older person is alone, they can call for help without needing to move. This could stop both you and them from worrying about something happening with no one else around.
  • You may also want to consider installing grab bars around their home and making sure surfaces aren’t too slippery.

What to do if elderly person falls

What to Do if an Elderly Person Falls Down

If a senior does fall over when you’re present, it’s important to stay calm and encourage them to do the same - panicking isn’t going to help:

  1. You should wait until the shock has worn off before you try to move them. It’s also important to find out what the cause of the fall might have been.
  2. You don’t want to cause injury to yourself as well, so check that the area is safe before proceeding.
  3. If you’re concerned about a potential sprained, fractured or broken leg or foot, or they’re complaining about head, neck or back pain, it may be advisable to leave them where they are and call an ambulance.
  4. You should only move them if you feel confident that it is safe to do so, as you don’t want to make their injuries worse.

Download Fall Prevention Guide

 

How to get someone off the floor who has fallen

Once you’ve assessed their injuries and determined that the person can be moved safely, you should clear any objects or debris from the surrounding area. For instance, they may have fallen and knocked a glass of water off the table. This should be put well out of the way.

Once they are calm and you’ve determined that there aren’t any major injuries, you should try to help them up into a chair. 

How to lift someone who has fallen [2]

  1. First, you should find two suitable and sturdy chairs. These will be used to help the person up safely.
  2. Place one chair by their head and the other by their feet. Then, you should help them to get into a kneeling position.
  3. It’s easiest to do this by encouraging them to bend one of their arms at the elbow and place it on the floor with the palm of their hand face down.
  4. They will be able to use this arm to push themselves up. Once they’re a little way off the ground, they should use the chair to assist them onto their knees.
  5. You can help by supporting their hips to ensure they don’t lose their balance or fall back down.

 

If they complain of anything hurting, you should stop immediately and safely lay them back down.

  1. Once the older person is in a kneeling position, you should reposition the second chair that’s at their feet so that it’s closer to them.
  2. When you’re both ready, the senior should lift the leg they feel is strongest and bring it in front of them, putting their foot flat on the floor.
  3. They should now be on one knee. Ask them to use this leg to stand up. They should do this slowly so they don’t get dizzy.
  4. You can support them by standing behind them with both arms under their armpits. Once they’re standing up, guide them to the second chair that you repositioned.

 

If the person fell near a bed or sofa, you can follow the same instructions as above, however you’ll only need one spare chair:

  1. Once they’re in a chair and you’ve had a chance to further assess their injuries, you should encourage them to see their doctor for a professional assessment.
  2. You shouldn’t move them if you don’t feel strong enough to do so safely. Instead, try to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible (if the floor is wood or tiled, it may be a good idea to put a rug, towel or blanket underneath them) and call an ambulance.
  3. Alternatively, if they have a personal alarm or fall alarm, you could press it for further assistance.

Download Fall Prevention Guide

 

What to do when someone falls down the stairs

Falling down the stairs could result in more serious injury than slipping in the bathroom or falling out of bed. If the person isn’t complaining of too much pain, you can use the technique mentioned above to get them into a chair.

However, if you’re unable to move them or don’t want to because they’re complaining of head, neck or back pain, you should call an ambulance immediately.

 

Sources


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