Let me be clear here. You should only attempt to help an aging adult up if they have NOT been injured. In the event they have been hurt, call 911 immediately. That being said, let’s assume they have NOT been injured, to all my loving caregivers I say BEWARE. In this challenging situation you must take care that they, or you, are not injured during the process of helping them to their feet.
Below are some general guidelines that can help keep both you and your loved one safe and injury free.
STEPS FOR HELPING AN AGING LOVED ONE AFTER A FALL
- Stay calm and help your loved one to remain calm by encouraging them to take slow, deep breaths.
- Examine them for injuries—bruises, possible sprain, broken bones.
- If they have a serious injury (e.g. a broken bone), then don’t move them. Call 9-1-1, and keep your loved one as warm and comfortable as possible until help arrives.
- If they aren’t badly hurt and they want to get up, proceed slowly and stop at any point if they become stuck or too tired to get all the way up.
- Find two sturdy chairs. Place one next to your loved one’s head and the other down by their feet.(Keep in mind, your loved one needs to be the one doing the physical work of getting up. You’re just there to help guide them and keep them steady, not lift their weight.)
- Help your loved one roll over onto their side, assist them into a kneeling position. If they suffer from sore knees, a towel placed underneath the knees can make them more comfortable.
- Move the chair closest to their head directly in front of where they are kneeling so that they can place their hands on the seat, evenly.
- Ask your loved one to lean on the seat as they bring one leg forward and place that foot on the floor.
- Move the second chair directly behind your loved one, then ask them to use their arms and legs to push themselves up, then sit back into the second chair. You can use your hands to keep your loved one steady, but keep your back upright and make sure they are doing the physical work to lift themselves.
- Notify their doctor that they’ve had a fall.
Even if they don’t have to go to the doctor immediately, there may be residual effects that could be misdiagnosed or go untreated if the doctor is unaware of the fall.
Now, what happens if an aging adult falls and a caregiver is not around to help? Here are some steps you can take to get yourself back on your feet.
STEPS TO GET BACK UP AFTER YOU HAVE FALLEN
- Stay calm.
- Examine yourself for injuries—bruises, possible sprains, broken bones.
- If you are confident you haven’t broken any bones or experienced a serious injury, search for the nearest piece of sturdy furniture. (A chair would be ideal.)
- Roll onto your hands and knees, then crawl or drag yourself over to the piece of furniture.
- Get into a kneeling position and place your arms on a stable area of the piece of furniture (e.g. the seat of the chair).
- Bring one knee forward and place your foot on the floor.
- Using your arms and leg simultaneously, push yourself up and pivot your bottom around until you’re sitting on the piece of furniture.
- Stay sitting until you’re confident you can move around without hurting yourself or falling again.
- If you find that you are unable to get up after falling, stay calm and try to alert someone to your predicament. While you’re waiting for help, endeavor to keep warm and move around slowly to avoid placing too much sustained pressure on any one area of your body.
- Notify your doctor that you’ve had a fall.
Once again, please don’t be prideful or secretive about your fall. I want you to live a long, healthy and happy life.
If you’re looking for additional resources on eldercare and related subjects go to www.strec.com
If you’d like to stay connected, you can find Toni Patillo on www.facebook.com/tonipatillo&associates, twitter: @tonipatillo and email: toni(at)tonipatillo(dotted)com(dotted)