How to get up safely in the event of a fall

The second article in our series on fall prevention looks at how to get up safely if you have had a fall and how you can take measures to minimise the risk of this happening again.

fall prevention

Can you get up?

If you have fallen, please stay calm and just lie still for a few moments to get over the immediate shock. Check for any injuries. If you feel as though you can get up by yourself then follow these steps:

  1. Roll on to your side, push up on to your elbows then use your arms to push yourself up on to your hands and knees until you are on all fours. Rest between each movement if you need to.

If you are struggling to get on all fours, try to shuffle on your bottom or roll to a lower surface, such as a bottom stair or sofa. Sit with your back to the surface, put your arms behind you and onto the surface and push yourself up, using your hands and feet, lift your bottom onto the surface.

  1. Crawl to a steady and stable piece of furniture, such as a chair or a table.
  2. Holding on tightly, move the foot of your stronger leg forwards so that it is flat on the floor.
  3. Lean forward and push slowly, using your arms and front leg, until you are at a standing position.
  4. If the furniture is a bed or chair, turn around and take a few minutes to sit and rest.

Whether you have fallen in the past or have never had a fall, it is advisable to practise these steps at home when you have someone around who can help you. This will better prepare you if you should have a fall in the future and help to make you feel more confident and safe.

If you’ve been injured in the fall

When checking for injuries, if you feel some pain, particularly in your hip or back, or you just really feel as though you cannot get up by yourself, you will need to summon help, keep yourself warm and keep your fluids up if you can reach a drink.

If you have one, use your pendant alarm or call your neighbours on your phone, if you can reach it, and then call 999 for an ambulance. Try to make as much noise as possible by shouting, banging on the floor or radiators to attract attention.

Keep warm whilst you wait for help by covering yourself with anything you can find, such as a blanket, coat or even a table cloth or rug. Roll up an item of clothing, if you cannot reach a cushion, and place this under your head.

Roll from side to side, move your limbs and wiggle your fingers and toes to maintain circulation. If the pain is great, do not push yourself to hard or cause any additional pain.

You CAN come back from this

Falling is a traumatic experience but it needn’t affect your confidence or quality of life in the long term. Whether you’ve been left with injuries or there were no serious consequences, by getting the proper help you can overcome the emotional after-effects of having a fall.

By taking steps to plan ahead, you can feel more confident in your ability to get through a fall and feel safer, should the worst happen. Here are some ways in which you can prepare:

  • Fall-proof your home by removing trip hazards – for more information on this, read our previous article here.
  • Place cushions, blankets and water around your house at floor level – to keep warm, comfortable and hydrated whilst you’re waiting for help. Please be mindful of where you place them – else they could become a fall hazard themselves!
  • If you have a cordless landline or mobile phone, keep it in your pocket or on a belt and programme in the telephone numbers of relatives, friends and neighbours nearby who could help
  • If you don’t have one already, get yourself a community alarm. This can be worn as a pendant or on your wrist and by pressing a button it will alert the control centre who will telephone your nominated key holders so they can check on you

Physiotherapy can help

A holistic physiotherapy programme can enhance balance, aid movement and build strength for older people with a wide range of conditions. In doing so, this promotes control and improved quality of life for you and your family. You can read more on our fall prevention page.

The Chartered Institute of Physiotherapy and their partners have put together a guide on falls, called ‘Get up and Go – a guide to staying steady’, which can be downloaded here.