We all fall from time to time. As we age, both the number of falls and the likelihood of injury increase. We may not be as steady on our feet as we once were, and we may have health conditions we didn’t have when we were younger.
Whether you’re at home or somewhere else, a sudden fall can be startling and upsetting. Reacting properly to a fall can help you regain your confidence more quickly and continue to be as independent as possible. It can also decrease the physical and psychological consequences of a fall.
- If you do fall, stay as calm as possible. Take several deep breaths and try to relax. Remain still on the floor or ground for a few moments. This will help you get over the shock of falling. It will also give you time to decide if you’re able to get up. Getting up too quickly or in the wrong way could make an injury worse. Even if you think you’re ok, take your time getting up.
- If you see someone fall, resist the urge to get the person up immediately. Check first: Is the person conscious or unconscious? Does the person appear to be injured? Reassure and calm the person.
- If you feel any discomfort, or are unable to get up, take steps to get help like calling out for help if you think you can be heard, or making noise with your cane or another object to attract attention.
- Discuss any fall with your doctor, even if there appears to be no injury. Write down when, where and how you fell so you can discuss the details. The doctor can assess whether a medical issue or other cause needs to be addressed.
Your doctor may suggest changing your medicines, having tests, seeing a specialist or physical therapist, or attending a fall prevention program.
Falls and fractures are not an inevitable part of growing older. Many can be prevented. Remember to stay active and keep a positive attitude!
Robyn Skiff, MS, is a program coordinator for Medical Home Self-Management with the UVM Medical Center’s Community Health Improvement office.