Injuries from falls can have a devastating impact on an older person and their ability to remain independent.
Improve your strength and balance. Tai Chi is an excellent way to improve balance and overall wellbeing. But there other programs which can build strength. Even people with mobility problems or in wheelchairs can start gentle, progressive exercise programs like the Home Support Exercise Program (HSEP). This was developed by the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging in Waterloo and can be done in groups or by yourself at home. This exercise program is taught by many organizations including TransCare Community Support Services.
Fall-proof your home. About half of all falls occur at home. Remove clutter. Make sure rugs and carpets are non-slip, and electrical cords don’t present a hazard. Get grab bars and other assistive aids for the bathroom.
Have a “fall-back” plan. How you respond to a fall can make a big difference from the time you first fall to a few days later. Practice and be ready for the possibility of a fall where you can get up yourself again or you can’t. Let your doctor know about your fall. Some impacts of a fall don’t show up for a few days. Also, a fall can be a sign of illness or medications.
What to do after a fall...
| ...if you CAN get up
|| ...if you CANNOT get up
- Lie on your side; bend the leg that is on top and lift yourself onto your elbows or hands.
- Pull yourself toward an armchair or other sturdy object; then kneel while placing both hands on the chair or object.
- Place your stronger leg in front, holding on to the chair or object.
- Stand up.
- Very carefully, turn and sit down.
- Call out for help if you think you can be heard.
- If you have an emergency call device or telephone at hand, use it.
- If you don’t, try to slide yourself towards a telephone or a place where you will be heard.
- Make noise with your cane or another object to attract attention.
- Wait for help in the most comfortable position for you.
- If you can, place a pillow under your head and cover yourself with a piece of clothing or a blanket to stay warm.
- Try to move your joints to ease circulation and prevent stiffness.
For more information and illustrations, see "If you fall or witness a fall, do you know what to do?" in PDF.
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