Falls are a big concern for those with older loved ones. A fall can be very serious for seniors; injuries can include everything from extensive bruising and broken bones to life threatening brain injuries.
It’s not irrational to be concerned that your older loved one will fall. Falls are very common for older adults — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one out of three older adults fall each year. 2.5 million nonfatal falls among older adults were treated in emergency departments in 2013, resulting in $34 billions in medical costs.
Even those who are not injured by their falls can still be traumatized by the experience. Many older adults develop a fear of falling that causes them to limit their activities. With limited physical activity, these older adults unintentionally increase their risk for falls due to their decreased physical fitness.
What to do after a loved one falls
If you witness an older adult fall, it’s important that you act quickly and properly to ensure that they don’t worsen injuries they may have.
If you witness your loved one falling, the most important thing to remember is that you should not move the person or attempt to help them to get up. While your first instinct may be to help them get up, you could be harming them in doing so. They may have an injury that could be worsened by movement.
The first thing you should do after an older adult falls is to immediately determine their physical state. If they are unconscious or unresponsive, immediately call 911.
If your fallen loved one is conscious and alert, keep them relaxed while ensuring they stay as still as possible. Ask them if they feel any pain, discomfort or other abnormal sensations. You should also perform a visual inspection of the person, checking for signs of injury or bleeding. Be sure not to move them as you do this.
If they report feeling pain or you see any serious injuries, immediately call 911. You’ll want to continue to keep your loved one still until medical professionals arrive and are able to assess the situation.
If your loved one doesn’t report any discomfort or pain and you do not see any signs of injury, ask if they are ready to have help standing up. Some people may want to remain on the ground until they are no longer in shock from their fall. As soon as they report feeling well enough to stand up, you can assist them.
Older Adult Falls: Get the Facts (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Caregivers: What To Do After a Fall