If you’ve watched a fair amount of television over the past 30 years or so, chances are you’ve seen the Life Alert® commercial with the elderly woman lying on the floor who cries, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Maybe you’ve even chuckled at the actress’s melodramatic performance. But once you’ve gotten older and experienced a sudden fall when no one else is around for yourself, you know it’s no laughing matter.
In the second of our series on avoiding and recovering from falls, we take a close look at what aging adults can do to help get themselves or someone else up off the floor and do a quick damage assessment.
Let’s say the unthinkable happens. You’re carrying a large box of photos to work on a scrapbook. You trip over unseen cat or a misplaced throw rug. Next thing you know, you’re in a heap on the floor and help is nowhere in sight. Here’s what to do:
When you’re ready to get up, follow these steps:
If you cannot get up or fall back down, follow these steps:
If you’re with a person who has fallen and you cannot get them up by yourself, call for medical assistance, and then administer first aid without moving them. If you do not know first aid, make sure the person is as comfortable as possible until professional medical assistance arrives. Pay special attention to the joints in case something has broken.
If the person who has fallen can get up, help them by bringing a chair. Then follow the five steps listed above for getting yourself up in the section titled, “If You Should Fall.”
Whether you are the victim of a fall or the “first responder” on the scene, you should never underestimate the gravity of a fall for an older adult. Do not assume that just because no after-effects are readily apparent that there are none.
If any of the following things seem to follow as a result of a fall, call a doctor immediately:
These symptoms may appear immediately after a fall or they could take a few days to
Any elder adult who is at risk of falling should have a charged cell phone in an easily accessible place. However, having an emergency fall device is even better. These devices have only one function—summoning professional medical help immediately. They also have a much longer battery life and are much easier for many older adults to use. Some of these devices may even be connected to insurance programs that can help pay for the equipment.
We hope some of these ideas will keep you or a loved one from spending some unpleasant hours alone on the floor or ground with no access to food, water or a bathroom. Stay tuned for the third and final installment in this series where we look at how to regain strength and confidence when not breaking your fall ends up damaging part of your body.