As we get older and more frail, we are more likely to fall, do you know how to help an elderly person after a fall?

27 July

Older people are much more vulnerable and likely to fall, and more so if they have a health condition.

Approximately one in three adults over the age of 65 who live at home may experience at least one fall a year, and about half of these will fall more frequently.

Most falls however, don’t result in serious injury but being older, bones are much more prone to fracture or breaking. Falling can also destroy someone’s confidence and make them feel as though they are losing their independence.

How can you help an elderly person following a fall?

If you have witnessed the person fall or not, ensure that they visit their GP, walk in clinic, or A&E for a check over.

Often, older people may hide an injury for fear of losing control of their independence. It’s important to reassure them that this will not happen. Even if they need some home help, their dignity and independence will be retained.

Do not try to get the person up immediately

Check for injuries first. Ask them to try and relax and take some deep breaths, and you can do this with them to begin with. Circular breathing can help; breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. While they are doing this, you can check them over for any skin discoloration, swelling, or other sign of injury.

It may help to give them a cushion or a pillow to rest their head on while you check them over.

How to get the person up from the floor

If they are having problems moving and are in too much pain, call for an ambulance.

If there is no evidence of injury then you can help them to get off the floor but it’s important that you assist them to get themselves up.

If the fall occurs while there is a health professional available such as a Care Worker or a Nurse, then alert them to the situation so they can help. There will be specific procedures for them to follow.

  • Let them get up in their own time, without being hurried.
  • Place a chair near their head, and one near their feet.
  • Ask the person to roll onto their side.
  • Support the person so that they can kneel on both knees facing the chair.
  • Place the chair that was by their feet, behind them so it is ready to sit on.
  • Using the seat of the chair to support them, ask them to bring one leg forward placing their foot firmly on the floor.
  • If they can, ask them to push up to standing position while you place the other chair behind them to sit on.

This technique enables them to get up for themselves, albeit slightly aided and means they are not putting all their weight back on their feet immediatley.

Always arrange a visit to the GP following a fall as often, injuries may take a while to become obvious.

Keep an eye on your loved one for a few days and check in on them regularly.

A fall can be a real shake up and affect confidence levels.

Falls prevention

It is a good idea to ensure that your older loved one is able to get about safely by checking what can be done to prevent the risk of falling.

  • To help get about they might need a walking frame, or a stick.
  • Make sure sight is tested regularly.
  • Check the home for trip hazards – often older people like to keep frequently used things close to them to limit the amount of movement, especially if they have a lack of mobility. You may be able to help by getting them some easy access storage solutions to be placed where they like to sit.
  • Check with your older relative to see if they are struggling to use the bathroom safely.
  • Check the floors for trip and slip hazards – this might be rugs, unstuck lino, cables etc.
  • Can they easily gain access to cupboards or things that they need.