Falls Prevention Awareness Day: What to do if you fall

September 22, 2017

National Falls Prevention Awareness Day comes on the first day of fall every year. For older adults especially, it’s a pressing issue.

Falls threaten your safety and independence. And, even if you never experience a fall, oftentimes even the fear of falling can be limiting.

For instance, some older adults who fear falling will avoid activities or social engagements outside of the home. This inadvertently can lead to isolation, loneliness, depression, or further physical decline.  However, falling is NOT an inevitable result of aging. Through regular exercise, you can improve your balance, flexibility, and stamina – all needed for fall prevention.

Making small lifestyle changes can also have a positive effect (like keeping your home free of clutter, regularly visiting your doctor, or avoiding broken sidewalks when walking outside). Additionally, overcoming your fear of falling is vital.

What to do if you fall

  • A sudden fall can be upsetting. If you do fall, first take a few moments to relax and recover from the shock.
  • You can also use this time to evaluate whether you’re badly hurt. If hurt, you should phone 911 or have a loved one do so. If you or a loved one lives alone, you might consider purchasing an emergency response system, which lets you push a button on a special necklace or bracelet to contact emergency services.
  • If you think you can get up safely without help, do so slowly (getting up too quickly or in the wrong way might cause injury).
  • The Wisconsin Institute of Aging suggests to first roll on your side. Then, use one elbow to push up into a crawl position (hands and knees). Wait a moment to assure your balance or catch a breath. Next, crawl to a chair or table. You can then use the chair or table to pull yourself to a standing or seated position. A printable PDF with illustrations on how to get up from a fall is available here.

Although falls are dangerous, they are not certain. All of us can take steps to reduce our risk of falling, or reduce the risk for a loved one. To help you get started, visit Iona for one of our excellent group exercise classes, including yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong. Learn more here.