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Fall Prevention in the Elderly: A Guide

For some older people experiencing mobililty issues or other health concerns, they may find that a fall could cause serious injury or damage. For those who live alone, falls can be more dangerous. This guide takes a closer look at falls, how they may happen, and steps to take to prevent a fall from causing serious injury.

If your loved one is vulnerable and needs help at home, a live-in care specialist can help. Explore our live-in care services for more, or check out our live in care guide.

How dangerous is a fall for an elderly person?

Falling in the elderly is a serious worry for most, especially if they are alone in the house or are very unwell. Falls in the elderly can be fatal and therefore are considered very dangerous so having a carer in place can help to reduce the risk of falling and make the outcome less serious. Falls in the elderly if not fatal can cause injuries such as hip fractures, head traumas and therefore can be very debilitating to the quality of life after an injury has occurred. It can take away that person’s independence, potentially leading to mental depletion and decreased morale.

An older person may not recover as well as a younger person may. Falls are nevertheless common, and although most do not end in a serious injury, it is recommended that preventative measures are put in place to minimise damage or potential long-term injury from a fall.

Causes of falls in the elderly

The cause of falls in the elderly can be from health problems such as bad balance, muscle weakness, poor eyesight, or a long-term health condition such as heart conditions, low blood pressure, or dementia. Factors that increase the likelihood of a fall may be:

  • Slippery surfaces
  • Bad lighting
  • Electric cabling
  • Unsecured rugs and carpets
  • Badly organised storage areas
  • Crowded corridors

Other causes can be from outdoor work such as gardening, walking to or from the shops, or maintenance work. Wherever possible, someone should be on hand to support an elderly person with carrying out physical activity, such as changing lights, heavy lifting, fixing items. Any notable home hazards should be addressed and removed if possible.

What to do if an elderly person falls down

If an elderly person does fall, then it is important to try and assess how serious it is early on. Ask your loved one or relative if they are in pain, and do your best to make them comfortable. If they are in any way struggling, then either professional help in the form of a carer, or paramedic, may be needed.  If it seems serious, call the emergency services on 999. Whilst examining them for injuries look for any bruises or bleeding and ask them if they are experiencing any pain, where the pain is located, and how severe it is.  Do not try to move a seriously hurt elderly person off the floor until an emergency service is there to help and move them correctly.

If they are not badly hurt and there is no need to call emergency services, then proceed to help lift them off the floor.

You can do this by:

  • Rolling them on their side, assisting them onto their hands and knees (put a blanket or towel on the floor if they have bad knees)
  • Placing a chair by the side of them and ask them to move their strongest leg forward and put their foot flat on the floor
  • Use the chair as support for their weight on the side (they look like they are in a lunging position)
  • Place another chair behind them and ask them to use their arms and legs to sit back into this chair
  • You can support them whilst they do this but if you are lifting them onto a chair make sure your back is upright
  • Once on the chair keep them seated there and call their doctor to tell them they have had a fall

How to prevent a fall in the home

To prevent a fall from happening to the elderly, create a fall prevention plan. This may include talking to a GP to do a simple balance test to decide whether the person is at risk of a fall. A GP can also do a sight test and review the medication that is being used. Regular exercise can improve balance and flexibility,  and good are a good idea to prevent falls. Avoiding falls at home can mean immediately mopping up surfaces from spillages, removing clutter, using non-slip mats, and making sure all passages to the bathroom and upstairs are clear and well lit. Other simple teqniques to avoid falls in the elderly can range from not wearing loosely fit clothing to not walking around in socks.

A GP can also undertake a. home hazard assessment. This will include a visit from a healthcare professional who has experience in fall risk prevention visiting the home. Fitting a personal alarm system is another way to care for the elderly at home, so that if they do have a fall, the alarm can signal for someone to help. If falls become a serious risk in the day to day life of a person, then elderly live-in care may be a serious consideration, as this is a simple way to ensure your relative will always have someone there, should they fall.

How can we help?

We help you arrange support for any reason including an elderly relative and are very happy to be able to discuss all of the care options that are available to you. Our team of elderly live-in care specialists will be happy to speak to you and will take the time to help you understand your options fully before arranging elderly care at home.

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Our friendly experts are here to help from 9am to 7pm, 7 days a week.

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