Falling is one of the major causes for older people needing to be admitted to hospitals and it can have a major impact on their future mobility and confidence in themselves. Older people who fall frequently fracture their hips and this may result in them needing to be cared for and losing their independence.
Older people usually are at a far greater risk of falling
- This is often due to them attempting to be fiercely independent and failing to identify risks.
- If they begin to get muddled and confused, that also puts them at a greater risk.
- Home hazards are frequently a cause of accidents – loose stair carpets, rugs and poorly fitting footwear and slippers that no longer have sufficient grip
- Often their eyesight is beginning to fail and they particularly struggle in low light, possibly failing to see the top step of the stairs or tripping over things that they had placed in a dangerous position.
- If they have an urgency to go to the toilet, this can result in them rushing, or if it is too late, in them slipping on a wet floor.
- Medication to reduce high blood pressure can result in them feeling dizzy if they get up too quickly and causing them to wobble or possibly collapse. Anyone on blood pressure reducing medication should be encouraged to get up very slowly whilst holding onto something.
Caretakers should consider all the risks and work with the person they are caring for and with any external organizations to assess the likelihood of falling and minimize the risks.
If Someone Has Fallen
Approach them calmly and reassuringly; be alert to any dangers to either you or the injured person. Do not rush to move them. Get onto the floor so you are at the same level as them and immediately assess if they are responsive.
If Not Responsive – Are They Breathing?
If they are breathing, look closely at how they have fallen and carefully put them into the recovery position to keep their airway clear.
If they are not breathing, start CPR and contact 911 immediately.
If the Person Is Responsive
Talk to them and try and ascertain how the accident happened and if there could be any medical cause such as a fit or stroke. Do not stress them if they are confused.
Try and work out where it hurts most and look at them closely to see if there are any obvious bleeding, bruising or contorted limbs indicating a particular injury. If they are conscious and you think they may have fallen from a height or could have injured their neck or spine, do not move them!
Try and keep them as still as possible and discourage them from twisting. Phone an ambulance and calmly keep reassuring them until paramedics arrive. If you are aware of any bleeding apply firm pressure with a clean pad whilst awaiting the first aid kit. If they start to show signs of clinical shock, lie them back and raise their legs and get medical help.
If There Is No Obvious Injury or Medical Cause for the Fall
Carefully and very slowly help them into a sitting position, watch them carefully for any signs of pain, discomfort or dizziness. Carefully assist them into a chair, or back to bed. Very carefully and reassuringly check them over completely to ensure that there is no unseen injury. This is particularly important for those suffering from diabetes when they may not feel where they have hurt themselves.
Monitor them carefully for the next 24 hours, inform their next of kin and get in contact with a medical expert to schedule a check-up.
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