What to Do if an Older Person Falls
Falls can cause happen to young, middle aged, or the elderly. The older a person is, the greater risk they have of being seriously injured by a fall. Millions of people 65 or older fall every year, and one out of five of those falls results in a serious injury such as fractured bones, traumatic brain injuries, or torn ligaments, according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. Each year, 700,000 people require hospitalization from a bad fall, most of which result in head and hip injuries. Sadly, fracturing a hip can be a life or death situation for an older person.
According to a study done by Kaiser Permanente, women who are 65 to 69 years old and fracture a hip increase their chances of dying within the year by five times. While men break fewer hips than women, older men aged 65 to 69 have an even higher chance of dying within the year following a hip fracture (30.9% for men versus 20.8% for women), according to a 2007 Italian study. It is important to follow a strict set of guidelines when anyone, especially an older person, has a bad fall to reduce the risk of further injury.
Getting Up After a Fall
If the fall victim is able to get up and they are all alone, they should do so in the following manner:
- Move to lie on their side;
- Bend the top leg and lift themselves onto their elbows or their hands;
- Pull themselves up to a kneel with a sturdy, stationary object (preferably something they can sit in such as a chair);
- Place the stronger leg in front while continuing to hold onto the stationary object for support; and
- Stand and slowly turn to sit down on the chair or other sturdy object.
If you fall and are unable to get up on your own, call for help and try to remain calm. Pull or slide towards a phone or somewhere where you can be heard. Use a blanket, pillow, or clothing as a pillow and try to stay warm and as comfortable as possible. Use objects to make noise if you cannot yell loudly.
If You Witness the Fall of an Older Person
If you are present when the person falls, your first instinct will probably be to rush over and help them up as quickly as possible by the arm. Resist this urge, as it may cause further injury. What you need to do first is to check for injuries and consciousness. If they are unconscious, gravely injured, or unable to get up, call for help and provide whatever first aid you are are able to. Assuming you are in a safe location, leave them on the ground. You can provide help by keeping them calm and covering them in something warm such as your jacket or a blanket.
If the person is able to move and get up, follow the steps listed below:
- Bring a chair to the fall victim;
- Help them turn onto their side and bend their top leg;
- Get behind the person and grip their hips or midsection;
- Help them into a kneeling position with both of their hands on the chair;
- Have them place their strongest leg in front; and
- With a firm grip on them, help them to stand and turn to sit in the chair.
If you or a loved one was injured in a slip and fall due to an unsafe premises or were injured in a nursing home accident where neglect is suspected, contact an experienced slip and fall or nursing home attorney today for legal advice.