Reduce Fear of Falling - How To Get Up from a Fall the Correct Way

Even professionals fall - Getting Up is the Important Trick
Even professionals fall - Getting Up is the Important Trick | Source

Many of us have seen, and many of us have laughed at, the television ad by the medical call alert company where a woman falls in the home: "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!" We know it's not funny but when a comedian pokes fun at this unfortunate situation, we laugh.

When a young person falls, especially a talented skater like Sharon Cohen (above), we don't feel as much concern for her physical safety as we would for an older person. We know she can, and will, get back up and skate beautifully again. But, when a senior falls, especially an older senior, we feel much more concern.

In a 2008 study: Inability to get up after falling, subsequent time on floor, and summoning help: prospective cohort study in people over 90 - BMJ 2008;337:a2227, authored by Jane Fleming, research nurse/study coordinator, Carol Brayne, professor of public health medicine, it was found that even when an elderly person is wearing an emergency call device they may not use it, even when lying on the floor for over an hour. The authors concluded that many seniors need training, specific training, on what to do if they fall and can't get up.

The purpose of this article is to provide some advice to care-givers, friends and family on how to help seniors know what to do if they fall in the home or on the street.

What should I do if I fall?

The first thing to do if you fall is to stay exactly where you are and catch your breath. Do not attempt to get up quickly or right away. Think about what has happened and try to determine if you are injured. You do not need to be embarrassed or frightened if you fall.

Take your time, even if you believe you are alright.

How to Get Up from a Fall Correctly
How to Get Up from a Fall Correctly | Source

If you think you can get up safely without help, you should follow these steps

  • If you are flat on the ground or floor, lie on your side. Bend the leg that is on top and roll over to a kneeling position. You should be on your knees and hands or knees and elbows. Take your time to let your blood pressure adjust - make sure you are not dizzy.
  • While still on your knees, crawl towards a chair or other sturdy object that won’t tip over.
  • While still on your knees place both hands or both elbows on the chair in the middle of seat.
  • Move your stronger leg forward while holding on to the chair or object and try to stand up. Turn around, carefully, and sit on the chair or object.
  • If you are not strong enough to stand up from this position, don’t worry. See if you can turn yourself around, carefully, and sit on the floor or ground with your back to the chair or object.
  • Rest in your sitting position and stay calm. Do not panic. Call for help, if you can, and wait for help to arrive.

NOTE: When you are at home it is a good idea to wear an emergency alert necklace and to place a blanket or robe on your main chair or bed to wrap around you if you fall. When you are outside it is a good idea to carry a cell phone to use to call for help and to wear or carry a light coat or sweater to wrap around you if you fall.

Emergency call button if you fall in your home.
Emergency call button if you fall in your home. | Source
Two-way voice communication pendant that quickly puts you in contact with up to four relatives, neighbors or friends should you need it.
Two-way voice communication pendant that quickly puts you in contact with up to four relatives, neighbors or friends should you need it. | Source

If you're hurt or can't get up

After you have caught your breath, if you determine that you may be injured try to remain as still as possible. If you move too quickly you may cause more injury so be careful if you feel any discomfort. What you want to do now is to get help.

  • If you wear an emergency alert necklace, press the button to call for help, then relax as much as you can.
  • If you carry a cell phone while outside, use it to call for help. Call 9-1-1 or call a nearby friend to come and help you.
  • If you are at home when you fall and don’t wear an emergency alert necklace, slide or crawl towards your telephone and call 9-1-1 or a friend.
  • If you are at home but cannot reach your telephone, slide or crawl towards your apartment door and call for help. If you are in your own house or you cannot slide or crawl, make as much noise as you can to be heard. Don't panic.
  • If you are able, cover yourself with a blanket or a sweater to stay warm while you are waiting for help.
  • Try to carefully move your legs and arms to ease circulation and prevent stiffness.
  • Above all, try to stay calm.

NOTE: If you live in an apartment (especially one for seniors) find a "buddy" and arrange with them to check on you (and you on them if they require it) on a regular, usually daily, basis.

  • Make a green door nob card; a card you can hang on your outside door to indicate that you are OK.
  • Place the green card on your door nob at night to indicate that you are going to bed and all is well.
  • In the morning, say 11:00 am, remove the green card from your door nob to indicate you are up and all is well.
  • It is a good idea to either allow your "buddy" to have a key to your apartment or make arrangements with the landlord to enter if your green card is still on the door.

If you witness a fall

If you see someone fall while outside or in the home, go to their aide but do not rush them. It is important that you resist the urge to get them up immediately.

If the person cannot get up:

  • Tell them your name and say you would like to help them.
  • Call for help and administer first aid if you are able to do so.
  • Tell them to stay exactly where they are while you check to see if they have any injury.
  • If the person can move (or is OK to move), help them find as comfortable a position as possible and cover them with a blanket or a coat or sweater to keep them as warm as possible while waiting for help.

If the person can get up:

  • If you can, bring a sturdy chair close by the person.
  • Help the person turn on their side and bend their top leg; help them turn over into a kneeling position.
  • Have the person place their hands or elbows in the middle of the chair.
  • Have the person move their stronger leg forward and, by pushing them up with your hands on their hips, help them rise to a standing or crouching position in front of the chair. (Remember to lift with your legs – not your back.)
  • Guide them to turn and sit in the chair.
  • Help keep the person warm and calm.

Should I tell my doctor if I fall?

If you fall, or almost fall, you should discuss this with your doctor. A fall or near fall may be the result of dizziness, poor vision, muscle weakness, medications or need for a medical mobility service either in your home or outside your home.

See: Fear of Falling - A Senior's Worst Nightmare for further information on what can cause a fall and how to help prevent falls.

Make a note of where you fell, what time of day it was, if you tripped over something, if you felt dizzy all of a sudden, if you turned your ankle, and whether you were inside or outside your home. Your doctor will help you determine if a change in medicine or dosage is appropriate, whether you need a new glasses prescription, or better fitting shoes.

Your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist to help with gait training or fitting you with a cane or walker or to an occupational therapist to help you remove fall risks in your home.

See: Guide-to-Removing-Dangerous-Fall-Risks-in-Senior-Homes for more information on how to prevent fall risks in your home.

Carry a cell phone and know how to use it in an emergency

Carrying a cell phone with you as you move about your home or while walking to the bank or store, can make it easier to call someone if you need assistance.

© 2012 Marilyn Alexander

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Comments 14 comments

lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 4 years ago from Central Virginia

A great hub. I've been a witness to a couple of falls by elderly people. It's always frightening until you determine what caused the fall and how badly injured they are. This is great information to help all of us prepare for those events.

innerspin profile image

innerspin 4 years ago from uk

Great, sensible advice. My elderly father-in-law fell recently at home alone. He used this method to get himself slowly to a phone in the next room to call his sister. She reminded him he was wearing a warden alert call buzzer. He didn't want to be a nuisance so hadn't used it! The warden was extremely helpful, he says he'll use the service if anything happens in the future. I'll use this hub as a reminder for him, thanks.

Grammagill profile image

Grammagill 4 years ago from Florida

As a care giver of the elderly for many year's, thanks for putting this advise out there for senior's.

moonfroth profile image

moonfroth 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

The difference between this Hub and the plethora of stuff out there on this same topic is -- you can WRITE You get a ton of info in the hands of the people that need it in very short span. Great pics, as usual. Well done!

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Hi lrc7815. It's amazing how easy it can be to take a tumble while you are outside. If we see this happen, especially to an older person, and we calmly help them, it can make a great difference in how they feel about continuing to go outside. Thanks for your comments, I really appreciate them.

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

God to see you Innerspin! What a story about your father-in-law! Elderly people can be so considerate, they don't want to be a bother to people. I really understand. I am so glad he was wearing an emergency call device and, I too, hope he will use it next time (although I certainly don't wish him a next time)!

Thanks for your valuable comments.

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Good to meet you Grammagill. Thanks for reading and commenting on my hub. And bless you for giving care to the elderly, it's not always an easy task.

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Hi moonfroth! Thanks for such wonderful comments. As always, I appreciate your coming by.

Tonipet profile image

Tonipet 3 years ago from The City of Generals

I love this hub!

I agree, staying cool before getting up from the fall is like collecting yourself again before smiling and show to "the startled audience..." that there's no need to be embarrassed. That way I can show an example that falling can happen to anyone and that being grateful for not being that hurt is better than frowning all our might. As long as we're not badly hurt, then I think handling the situation in a more pleasant manner exudes lightness :=) My votes up, interesting and useful. I'm sharing this across, Marilyn. Thank you again.

Lots and lots of smiles from me:-) -Tonette

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

What wonderful comments, Tonette. Thanks so much. You are right. Falls can happen to anyone - in the home or on the sidewalk. Learning to get up properly is so important for the elderly. Thanks for sharing this hub. More people need to know HOW to get up from a fall, or what to do if they can't get up.

brakel2 profile image

brakel2 3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Great hub with suggestion for seniors. I have neighbors who won't walk, as they are afraid of falling. What a life. They are too proud to use a cane or another device to help them. I will send a link to this article to one person I know. You are doing a great service by posting these suggestions. You may save someone's life. I remember how you supported me about a hub on candle warmers. I need to come back and read more hubs. Sharing this article on Pinterest. Blessings Audrey

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Hi brake12. Thanks for your comments. If you know someone who won't yet use a cane - take a look at the Hugo canes and the AMG canes. or see my article at Hugoanywhere under "canes". There are so many good looking, very safe canes on the market now.

I appreciate your friendship, Audrey. Always good to hear from you.

Blessings, Marilyn

Becky 23 months ago

It's a joy to find sonmeoe who can think like that

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 23 months ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Thanks Becky! I care about seniors. Old age is new to them! (not trying to be funny) They grew up with more of a sense of having to look after themselves. Sometimes all they need is a little advice and help.

Cheers, Marilyn

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