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How to Help Someone Who Has Fallen

home health aid helps elderly woman to stand

Did you know? Falls are the most common fatal injury among older Americans, and the most common trauma-related reason for hospital admissions. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in the emergency room annually, including more than 800,000 hospitalizations.

“This is a huge, important issue, as statistics show seniors fall quite often,” says Allison Simms, PT, DPT, MHA, Rehab Clinical Manager for VNS Health. Because falls can be prevented, the best plan is to reduce the risk of falling both in the home and outside. But even when you’re careful, a fall can happen, so it’s crucial for caregivers to know what to do.

When a person falls, they may be embarrassed and want to get up as quickly as possible. And if you see them fall, your first instinct may be to help them up. But in some cases, this can be harmful. Simms cautions that a fallen person should not try to get up too fast. Caregivers should encourage them to proceed slowly and carefully.

Five Steps to Safely Help Someone Who Has Fallen

Here are five steps safety experts recommend that anyone follow when they see someone fall:

  1. Determine whether the person is in pain. Look for visible injuries or facial grimaces.
  2. If you do not notice or find injuries and the person thinks they can get up, place a sturdy chair directly in front of them, or instruct them to crawl to the nearest stable piece of furniture.
  3. Let the fallen person use the chair first to get into a kneeling position, then partially stand. Gently guide them if necessary.
  4. If necessary, help them turn slowly and carefully so they can sit in the chair.
  5. Once they are seated, look again for injuries and, if necessary, call emergency services or the person’s physician.

If the fallen person is injured or unable to get up, call for medical assistance immediately.

Learn more about the steps caregivers can take to help family members avoid falls.

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