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An elderly personal alarm with automatic fall detection can detect a fall and call for help without you needing to push the button. This is vital is you are unconscious or immobile following a sudden illness or a fall. The call will automatically go through to either your nominated contacts or a SureSafe operator, depending on which service you have chosen. You will be able to get the help you need fast, even if you are unable to press the button.

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Managing Fainting in the Elderly

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms
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Fainting in the elderly is a tricky condition to manage – for multiple reasons.

Firstly, it can have serious consequences in the form of falls, which are especially dangerous to the elderly. Secondly, older people who experience fainting are more likely to have poorer health and several medical conditions, meaning that they are even more vulnerable to the risks of falls.

But what actually causes fainting in older people? The causes can vary widely – that’s just another reason why fainting in the elderly is difficult to handle.

In this piece, we aim to shed some light on this complex topic, including potential causes of fainting and how to reduce risks.

Causes of fainting in the elderly

Fainting in older people can be related to serious medical conditions. What’s more, dangerous medical problems like strokes can easily be mistaken for fainting. That’s why it’s best to contact a GP if you’re concerned about fainting in an elderly person.

Overall, the root cause of fainting is simply that sufficient blood isn’t reaching your brain. There are many reasons this might occur, including…


Medication side effects are a concern for many older people, and fainting is one of the problems they can cause. Medicines might cause dizziness, blood pressure problems or other symptoms that result in fainting.

Pressure on the neck

Carotid sinus hypersensitivity is a condition that is more frequent in older people, especially older men. It’s related to the carotid artery, which is the artery in the neck. This condition means that pressure on this artery in the neck can cause fainting. One example of this pressure might be a collar that’s too tight.

Standing for a long time or standing up quickly

Vasovagal syncope is the medical name for fainting that’s related to the vagus nerve. It can be caused by distress or by standing for a long time. This is the type of fainting that we most often think of when the condition is mentioned. For example, if you faint when you see blood, that’s vasovagal syncope.

There are a couple of other ways in which standing for too long can cause fainting. One of these is orthostatic hypotension, which is when the body isn’t able to pump sufficient blood volume up to the brain. This is a relatively common condition in the elderly.

Dehydration or malnutrition

It’s well known that older people, especially those with dementia, can be vulnerable to dehydration. Similarly, elderly people can struggle with not eating enough food, whether that’s due to lack of appetite or poor mobility that makes it hard to cook.

In either case, a lack of sufficient food or water can cause low blood pressure, which can result in fainting.

Fainting after meals

Strangely, eating a large meal can also cause low blood pressure and fainting. This is called postprandial hypotension, and it happens when the body sends too much blood to the digestive system after a big meal.

Heart conditions

Numerous heart conditions and issues, including heart disease and problems with heart rate, can cause fainting. While these are not the most common causes of fainting, they are significant and might even require urgent medical attention. That’s just another reason why you should check with your GP if you’re worried about fainting.

What’s not fainting

So, what might be mistaken for fainting but isn’t?

An epileptic seizure might cause an older person to fall to the ground. Low blood sugar due to diabetes can also cause loss of consciousness. And, of course, medical crises like heart attacks can also resemble fainting.

Needless to say, all of these causes of losing consciousness are also serious and may require urgent help.

Reducing risks related to fainting in the elderly

As you might expect, knowing the cause of your fainting is important when it comes to reducing your chance of fainting.

Many of the causes we’ve mentioned above relate to low blood pressure. Your GP will be able to advise you how to handle this. For example, they might recommend that you monitor your blood pressure. If the low blood pressure is due to food or water intake, your GP might also suggest changing your eating or drinking patterns or your diet. People who faint after eating a large meal might be advised to eat smaller portions more often during the day.

There are also several ways in which fainting can be related to standing or changing position, such as going from sitting to standing. If your GP finds that this type of fainting can’t be entirely prevented, they might recommend that you are extra careful when standing up. You might also want to get a cane that folds out into a small seat, which would help you avoid standing up for a long time.

When you feel you are about to faint

In general, it’s important to recognise the signs of an approaching faint so that you can either prevent the faint or get to a safe position. Some signs that you might be about to faint include greying vision, dizziness, coldness or clamminess and nausea.

The NHS advice on fainting gives tips on staving off a faint if you feel it coming on. These include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Sitting with your head bent down at your knees.

It’s also been suggested that clenching your fists or crossing your arms or legs can help prevent a faint.

If a faint can’t be prevented

If your GP isn’t able to help you completely prevent your faints and our tricks for staving them off don’t work, you’ll have to take action to ensure you are safer when fainting.

That might mean sitting down or lying down so that you can’t be injured when you faint.

A personal alarm is another security measure that helps keep older people safer after falls or faints. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, you can quickly press a button on a one-touch alarm to contact a carer, a loved one or a response centre. Even better is an alarm that also offers fall detection. This type of alarm senses when its wearer has fallen and calls for help on its own. That’s important if an older person is at risk of fainting and striking their head, which would leave them unconscious and unable to call for help.

Contacting the DVLA

According to the NHS, you are required to contact the DVLA if you faint “regularly.” That just makes sense – you and other people could be in serious danger if you faint behind the wheel.

What’s more, if you have contacted your GP about fainting and you’re waiting for an appointment or assessment, you are not allowed to drive.

Managing fainting in the elderly with SureSafe

It’s well known that falls in the elderly present a considerable risk and can lead to severe consequences, including hospitalisation.

It’s also well known that an older person who spends a long time lying on the floor before getting help is at even greater risk. This is called a “long lie.”

While it’s not always possible to prevent falls, it is possible to prevent a “long lie.” An elderly personal alarm from SureSafe can do just that, because it ensures that an older person can always call for help with just the touch of a button. This provides a layer of safety when seniors are at risk of fainting – and it also protects against other causes of falls, such as stumbles due to mobility issues.

SureSafe is a UK market leader in just this kind of personal alarm for the elderly. Our devices include all the features we’ve discussed and more. They’re highly rated, easy to use and affordable.

Would you like to chat more about how our personal alarms work or how they can help a senior who’s prone to fainting? If you would, our expert team is here to answer your questions. Just get in touch with us by phone at 0800 112 3201, via our live chat or by requesting a call back.

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