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What to do when an elderly parent falls

If you are caring for a frail older family member it is important to know what to do when someone falls. Not only so you can help an injured person but to avoid injuring yourself. It is not a bad idea to have a strategy in place in case of a fall.

If a loved one falls avoid moving them until it has been established that the fall has not caused serious injury. If a person is seriously injured call 000 for an ambulance. 

Immediately after a fall:

  • Do not try to get the person up of the ground straight away
  • Ask the person to take some deep breaths, relax and place a pillow under the person's head
  • Check for any injuries. Can the person move their legs and arms? Is the person in pain? Is there any obvious deformity? Bones sticking out, swelling, bleeding, unusual position of the limbs?
  • Has the person hit their head? Does the person appear grey in colour, is the person unconscious?

Falls for many older people result in serious injury. Broken hips are one of the most common injuries from falls and can lead to serious disability for many people.

If you are caring for a loved one in an aged care home and they fall call the nursing staff for help. Never move someone on your own. An aged care home will have a strict policy concerning falls. Do not try picking someone up off the floor as you could injury yourself and cause harm to a loved one. Just place a pillow under their head, keep calm and call for the nurse in charge.

Older people may also be reluctant to tell you they have fallen and you may find out by accident. Sometimes injuries are not always evident straight away. Bruising will not appear for days after a fall or you may notice a family member walking with a limp or in discomfort. Even fractures can go undetected for days.

That's why it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible after a fall. Your doctor will want to know what happened before the fall, how the person landed and what medications the person is taking.

Fear of a fall can be very real for many older people. Sometimes an elderly person may restrict movement fearing another fall. Talking to a doctor or working with a physiotherapist can help many people overcome a fear of falling and regain their confidence.

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