As we get older, many of us will face mobility challenges we didn’t when we were younger. According to the National Council on Aging, 1 in 4 Americans 65 or older falls every year. For older adults, falls are the most common reason for nonfatal trauma-related hospitalizations. There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a fall. These include things like staying active and using mobility aids when needed.
But while you’ve probably seen a lot of articles about preventing falls, what do you do if one actually happens?
The first thing to do is to try and remain calm. Whether you’re old or young, falling is a startling experience. Breathe in deeply through your nose for three counts, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this until you start to feel a little calmer.
If you feel pain, assess that pain while you’re still on the ground. If you feel okay or think you can get up, you’ll want to move slowly. Rushing to stand could make any injury worse. However, if you do think you can stand, roll to your side and let yourself rest for another moment. Resting is important because it helps to stabilize your blood pressure. From your side, you can roll onto your hands and knees, and crawl to a chair.
Once you’ve reached a chair or another sturdy but easy-to-reach surface, get a good grip on the seat. Then, pick up or slide one foot so it’s flat on the floor, keeping your other leg bent. From here, you can hopefully turn and rise enough to sit.
If you’re unable to get up, call 911 or ask for help if someone else is around. If you’re alone, try to maneuver into a comfortable position until help arrives. Falling when you’re alone is especially scary, but one of the advantages of our modern age is technology. It’s a good idea to carry a cell phone with you for this reason. Another alternative is a personal emergency alert system.