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Care Giving Tips: What to Do After a Fall

July 16, 2012

The following information for What to do After a Fall was obtained from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine, both part of the National Institutes on Health.

Caregivers can help after a fallWhen a caregiver witnesses a fall, proper and timely response is critical.  In fact, taking the right actions at the right time could save a senior's life.

A senior-friendly home helps to ensure safety and reduce the risk of falls. However, necessary home modifications are just one part of the equation. Caregivers also need to know the best ways to respond if a falling incident occurs. 

One proactive approach is to have a Fall Response Strategy, detailing what to do immediately after a fall, and under which circumstances certain actions are to be taken. A sample response plan1, for when an older person falls in the presence of a family member or other care giver, is provided below.

Do Not Move Someone Who Has Fallen

Caregivers need to resist the impulse to move a fallen person and understand that they should make no attempt to help them to get up right away. Moving someone who has fallen may make the situation worse, especially when the extent of possible injury is unknown.

Instead, the caregiver should first assess the person's physical status, letting the results determine subsequent actions, as follows:

Status: Unconscious and Unresponsive

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Keep the individual as still as possible
  • Check vital signs (respiration, pulse rate, skin coloring, pupil dilation, etc)
  • Check for signs of bleeding and obvious injury (swelling, unusually positioned limbs)
  • Depending on the degree of injury, apply basic first aid
  • Stay by his/her side until medical help arrives

Status: Conscious and Alert

  • Keep him/her comfortable, relaxed and as still as possible
  • Ask if there is any discomfort, severe pain or throbbing in the head or light headedness
  • Check for signs of bleeding and obvious injury (swelling, unusually positioned limbs)
  • Depending on the degree of pain and injury, Apply First Aid and Call 911
  • Offer calming reassurance; use soothing and comforting words
  • If injury is not apparent, ask the person if he/she feels well enough to get up off the floor

Now that they're ready to get up, are you ready to help? Continue reading for step-by-step guidance on  How to Safely Help Someone To Get Up After A Fall.

1Find more expert tips on senior safety and fall prevention, visit NIH SeniorHealth: Falls and Older Adults

This article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a medical professional.

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