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What to do after you fall

| Health and Lifestyle

Falls are common occurrences in those aged 65 and over and Age UK data shows that around a third of people in this age group falling at least once a year. If this were to happen to you, would you know how to react and how to safely stand up again?

Whether you’re worried about falling in the future or have recently experienced a fall, keep reading. In this article, we draw together advice and information taken from the NHS, First Aid for Life, and Age UK fall prevention resources to provide helpful tips on what to do if you have an accident like this.

older man walking down the stairs with a stick

How to get up when you fall

After a fall, it’s important that you get up slowly and carefully to make sure that you don’t cause further damage. Take your time to assess any injuries and ensure that you’re calm before you try to move. If there are people around, they may provide assistance and help you to get back on your feet.

Trying to get up when you’re on your own can be more difficult, however, there are some techniques that you can try that are recommended by the NHS and First Aid for Life to make sure that you get up safely.

First, you need to make sure that you don’t have any major injuries. Take a few minutes to check what hurts and try making some small movements, such as moving your feet. Keep calm and wait until you’re over the shock of the fall before making any big movements.

Once you feel able to move, try to get on your hands and knees. Depending on how you landed, this can usually be done by rolling onto your side and then putting your hands under you to pull yourself up.

When you’re on your knees, crawl slowly towards a sturdy object that can be used to help you get up. Avoid a piece of furniture that could potentially tip over, as it may land on you. A chair, the stairs or a heavy desk are the best objects. Put your hands on the item to support most of your weight and slide one leg forward so that you’re in a kneeling position. From here, use your leg and both arms to push yourself upwards. If this movement makes you feel faint, rest for a bit before attempting it again. Once you’ve stood up, sit on a chair for a few minutes if possible to ensure that you’re okay.

At this point, it might be a good idea to call a family member so that they can come over and determine that you’re okay. They may also be able to assess any injuries or take you to a local walk-in centre to be checked over.

You may have had previous injuries or surgeries that could prevent you from getting up in the way described above. For example, if you have a knee injury, you may not be able to kneel to pull yourself up. You shouldn’t attempt any actions that could make these injuries worse. In this case, try to call for help by banging on a wall, shouting or, if you’re able to, using a mobile phone to call someone.

Falling can be dangerous for any older person, but this is especially the case for seniors who live alone. If you were to fall at home with no one around, would you be able to call for help or stand up again by yourself? This is why it’s important that some preventative measures are put in place before you fall so that you’re prepared. For example, a personal alarm is a device that is on your person at all times so that, should an accident occur, you can push the button for help without needing to move or access a phone. An emergency response unit would be able to reach you or a family member could be contacted by the response unit to alert them of your fall.

If you fall and are unable to move, use your personal alarm to get help quickly.

To prevent you from becoming too cold, the NHS recommend that you move onto a soft surface, such as carpet or a rug[1]. If you’re able to, reach for a blanket or throw that can keep you warm until help arrives and try to move away from any draughts. If it’s too painful to move, then avoid doing so as it could make your injuries worse.

What to do for bruising after a fall

It’s likely that you’ll have some bruising after falling over. This is normal, however, there are some ways that you may be able to treat the area.

A bruise is a bleed underneath the skin. Therefore, to reduce the appearance of the bruise, you should limit the bleeding[2]. This can be done using an ice pack or cold compress that is applied to the area. If you’re using an ice pack, wrap it in a tea towel first so you don’t get an ice burn. Apply the compress for at least 10 minutes.

When the bruise covers a large area, such as your leg, elevating it can help. Where possible, rest as much as you can and keep your leg on a footstool for around 24 hours after the incident.

Seniors tend to experience bruising more as the skin thins with age and the blood vessels are closer to the surface of the skin. This is why your bruises may look bad but don’t hurt that much. If you’re in a lot of pain, you could try taking some paracetamol to ease it.

 Sources:

[1]https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/preventing-falls/dealing-with-a-fall/what-to-do-if-you-fall

[2]https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/accidents-first-aid-and-treatments/what-are-bruises/

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/products/mobility-and-independence-at-home/personal-alarms/

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