According to the CDC, more than one out of four adults age 65 or older falls each year, and falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
While many falls do not cause serious injury, falls are a serious and costly occurrence.
When a fall does cause serious injury, these injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.
Even worse, after an older adult falls, lying on the floor for an extended period or getting up incorrectly could cause additional injury – even if they didn't suffer seriously injured from the fall itself. For example, someone who isn’t able to get up from a fall or call for help may develop some serious complications such as dehydration, hypothermia, pneumonia or pressure sores.
To combat this, seniors can proactively learn techniques for how to safely get up from a fall.
Educating yourself and your loved ones on what to do if a fall does occur and practicing ahead of time will give them confidence that they’ll be able to help themselves and minimize injuries.
This video shares a helpful demonstration on techniques for safely getting up after a fall.
(Demonstration begins at 1 minute 35 seconds)
Always Assess Injuries Before Moving:
Seniors should only consider getting up from a fall if they’re not injured or dizzy. They should also feel that they have enough strength to be able to get up on their own. If you find that your older adult has been injured in a fall, don’t move them – that could make their injuries worse. Instead, call 911, keep them as warm and comfortable as possible, and wait for emergency responders to arrive.
How To Get Up From A Fall (No Injuries) :
Stay calm and still. Don’t move for a few minutes - moving too quickly can cause more harm.
Figure out if you’re injured. Slowly move your hands, feet, arms, and legs to check for pain.
If there are no injuries, slowly roll onto your side, starting the movement with your head and moving down your body toward your feet. Then take a moment to rest.
Slowly push yourself up into a crawling position and slowly crawl on your hands and knees toward a sturdy chair or piece of furniture. Don’t rush and take time to rest as needed. Place your hands on the seat of the chair, one at a time.
Supporting yourself with the chair, bring your strongest leg up to a 90 degree angle by putting that foot flat on the ground. The other leg stays in kneeling position. Slowly push yourself up to standing using both arms and legs.
Slowly turn around and lower yourself onto the chair. Be sure to sit and catch your breath for a few minutes before doing anything else.
How To Call For Help When There Are Injuries After A Fall :
Stay calm and rest for a few moments. Try and figure out what parts of your body are injured.
If you have one, use an emergency medical alert device or your mobile phone to call 911 or to call a family member for help. Tell them about your injuries.
If there’s a pillow nearby, place it under your head. If there’s a blanket or some clothing nearby, use it to keep yourself warm while you wait for help to arrive.
If you don’t have a medical alert device or a phone nearby, start yelling for help. If you can’t yell, grab something nearby and use it to bang on the floor, the wall, or on nearby furniture to make noise and attract attention.
What Conditions Make You More Likely To Fall?
Research has identified many risk factors that contribute to falling. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:
Lower body weakness
Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system)
Difficulties with walking and balance
Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
Foot pain or poor footwear
Home hazards or dangers such as
broken or uneven steps, and
throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over.
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.
Healthcare providers can help cut down a person’s risk by reducing the fall risk factors listed above.
What You Can Do To Prevent Falls?
Falls can be prevented. These are some simple things you can do to keep yourself from falling.
Talk to Your Doctor
Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy. This should include prescription medicines and over-the counter medicines.
Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about taking vitamin D supplements.
Do Strength and Balance Exercises
Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance.
Tai Chi is a good example of this kind of exercise.
Have Your Eyes Checked
Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.
If you have bifocal or progressive lenses, you may want to get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities, such as walking. Sometimes these types of lenses can make things seem closer or farther away than they really are.
Make Your Home Safer
Get rid of things you could trip over.
Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
Put railings on both sides of stairs.
Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.