How to Help Someone Who Has Fallen

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, falls result in more than 2.5 million injuries treated in the ER annually, including more than 734,000 hospitalizations and more than 21,700 deaths.

“This is a huge, important issue, as statistics show seniors fall quite often,” says Allison Simms, PT, DPT, MHA, Rehab Clinical Manager for VNSNY. Because falls can be prevented, the best plan is to reduce the risk of falling both in the home and outside. But even with precautionary measures in place, a fall can happen. And since falls are so common, Simms says that it’s crucial for caregivers to be prepared and know what to do.

When a person falls, it’s a natural instinct to help them up, and the fallen person may be embarrassed and want to get up as quickly as possible. But in some cases, this can do more to hurt than help. Simms cautions that a fallen person should not try to get up too fast, and caregivers should encourage proceeding slowly and carefully.

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 feels 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 to first 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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