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.
What To Do When an Elderly Loved One Falls at HomeArticle by Daniel Westhead
- What can cause falls in older people?
- What can be the health consequences of a fall?
- What can you do if an elderly loved one has fallen at home?
- What can you do if an elderly loved one’s personal alarm alerts you to say that they have fallen?
- How SureSafe can be part of your plan to avoid and address falling
According to the UK government, three out of ten people aged 65 and up will experience a fall at least once per year. And falls in elderly people are a serious matter – one in five elderly people who falls gets a serious injury.
That means that if you have an elderly loved one, it’s crucial to plan ahead so you’ll know what to do if they fall.
Do you know how to get an elderly person off the floor if they’ve fallen? If not, read on as we explore what can cause older people to fall, what steps to take if an elderly person has fallen at home and how you can take action to prevent a fall before it even occurs.
What can cause falls in older people?
There is a vast range of factors that can contribute to an older person’s fall. It’s worth reading up on them because knowing what has caused an elderly loved one’s fall can help you take the best course of action.
Sometimes falls can result from limited mobility, where conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease or oedema in the lower body negatively affect an older person’s balance, stability or flexibility in their hips, legs and feet. Muscle weakness can also increase an elderly person’s risk of falling and make it more difficult for them to get up after a fall.
Type 2 diabetes can cause neuropathy or numbness in an older person’s feet, which can cause them to trip and fall. Poor eyesight, obstacles on the floor such as bunched-up rugs, or confusion from dementia can also cause an elderly person to trip over.
Dizziness and fainting are another significant cause of falling. These can be due to a wide range of causes, including medication side effects and dehydration.
What can be the health consequences of a fall?
There are many injuries that can result from a fall, but one of the most common is a bone fracture. Hip fractures are a particular concern, as hospitalisation from a hip fracture can start an overall decline in health that results in an older person moving to a care home.
It’s also worth being alert to the danger of head injuries as a result of falls.
Lying for the floor for a long time after a fall is a serious concern too. This can result in health conditions like pressure sores, dehydration and hypothermia. However, seniors can reduce their anxiety about a “long lie” by getting a personal alarm with automatic fall detection. This ensures that if a fall does happen, help will be on the way quickly with no input needed from the alarm wearer.
What can you do if an elderly loved one has fallen at home?
It’s important to know how to get an elderly person off the floor before a fall happens. That way, if your elderly loved one has fallen, you’ll know to follow the steps below.
The first step: assessing the situation
If you’re with your elderly loved one just after the fall, let them take a few minutes to see how they feel and sense if they have injuries.
If there is a serious injury such as a broken bone, a head, neck or back injury, or signs of a stroke, call 999. For minor injuries, you can call 111 for guidance, though you should call 999 if there’s any doubt.
If the elderly person isn’t responding, call 999. Familiarise yourself ahead of time with the basic steps of first aid from the NHS. That way, if an accident occurs you can follow them according to the instructions of the 999 dispatcher.
How to lift an elderly person off the floor… don’t!
If your loved one is not hurt by their fall and just needs help getting up again, you might be wondering how to lift an elderly person off the floor.
However, medical guidance says that you should not try to pick up or lift someone who has fallen.
This may be surprising, but there are three good reasons:
- You may injure yourself trying to lift the other person.
- You could drop your elderly loved one partway through lifting them and cause further injuries.
- Your elderly loved one might actually be injured, in which case picking them up could make their injury worse. Unless you have medical training, you won’t be able to tell why your elderly loved one can’t get up.
What should you do? Call 111 for help. Medical professionals or other emergency personnel such as firefighters will know how to lift an elderly person off the floor in a safe way.
While you are waiting for medical help, ensure that your elderly loved one is hydrated and is not too warm or too cold. Stay with them and provide reassurance, comfort and anything else they need.
How to get an elderly person off the floor
Although you shouldn’t try to pick up an elderly person who has fallen, there is a lot you can do to help them get up on their own.
Experts say that if you’re an elderly person who has fallen but isn’t injured, the best way to get up from the floor is to follow these steps:
- If you’re on your back, roll onto your side
- Roll onto your front so that you are on your hands and knees
- From the position on your hands and knees, crawl toward a sturdy chair. You want the seat of the chair to be by your side.
- Place one hand or two on the chair seat for stability.
- Raise the leg closer to the chair into a kneeling position so that your foot is flat on the floor. This should be your stronger leg, if one of your legs is weaker due to a pre-existing condition like arthritis.
- Push this stronger leg into a standing position while pushing on your hands to raise your body upward.
- As you do this, turn your body so that you can sit down on the chair.
What if an elderly person has knee problems and can’t go onto their hands and knees? AARP suggests moving into a sitting position on the floor with a chair nearby and then sitting on a large cushion. From an elevated position seated on the cushion, push upwards and then move to sit on the chair.
If you are giving aid to an older person who has fallen, you can help with this process in some major ways:
- Talk them through the steps
- Move a large, sturdy chair so that it is right next to them, eliminating the need for them to crawl to a chair.
- Help care for them after they are seated and provide comfort.
The last step is to contact a GP. After a fall, even one that seems harmless, an older person should always tell their GP so that a doctor can make sure the older person is okay and the fall was not caused by a serious health condition. A GP can also help you to ensure that a fall doesn’t happen again. For example, they may recommend physiotherapy.
What can you do if an elderly loved one’s personal alarm alerts you to say that they have fallen?
Family and friends personal alarms can provide great peace of mind for elderly people who live alone. They ensure that even if it’s the middle of the night, one touch of a button is enough to call for help. If the first person called doesn’t answer, the alarm will automatically call the next number in its list of up to 5 family and friends.
What should you do if you get one of these calls from a personal alarm? You’ll have to judge how severe the situation is depending on the feedback you get from your elderly loved one and how far away you are. From these factors, you can decide which of the above steps to follow.
For example, if you are able to speak through the alarm to your loved one and they say that they are not hurt and just need help up, then you can first guide them through the process of going to their hands and knees and moving to sit on a chair. Then you’ll go to them to provide post-fall care if you are nearby. If you’re not close by, you’ll call someone who’s nearer to help first.
On the other hand, if your loved one is not responding or is in pain, you’ll need to call 999 for them right away before going to help.
Another tip – whenever you don’t live in the same home as your elderly loved one, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a key to their home. Another option is to use a lockbox outside of the home that is protected with a code. If someone else such as a neighbour or emergency services needs to get into the home, they can use the lockbox to gain entry more quickly and without damaging the door.
How SureSafe can be part of your plan to avoid and address falling
The best way to address the risk of falls is to prevent them from happening. There are many actions you can take that reduce the risk of falling, including:
- Adding grab bars where they’re needed, such as in the shower or bath
- Checking whether medications have side effects of dizziness or faintness
- Making sure floors are cleared and flat but not slippery
- Making sure slippers or shoes worn indoors have a good grip
- Using lighting and colour to make spaces visually clearer to seniors with poor eyesight or with dementia
- Improving physical strength and mobility through gentle exercise
As we’ve seen, personal alarms can also be crucial addition to this care plan, ensuring that help can be called right away in the case of a fall. SureSafe is a trusted provider of just this kind of personal alarm. With 4.8 out of 5 stars on review.io, SureSafe offers talking pendant alarms and wrist alarms that can automatically detect falls and call for help with the touch of a button. You can also choose alarms that connect directly to our 24/7 response centre, where our experts are trained on what to do when an elderly person falls.
To learn more about how SureSafe can give you and your elderly loved one peace of mind about falls, call our team at 0800 112 3201. You can also enter your info into our form to request a call back, or get in touch via our live chat.