Falls are a major cause of older people needing to be admitted to hospital. They can have a major impact on their confidence and future mobility. Older people frequently fracture their hips as part of the fall. They may result in them losing their independence and needing to be cared for.
Older people are at a far greater risk of falling.
• This is often due to them failing to identify risks and being fiercely independent.
• If they begin to get muddled and confused that also puts them at a greater risk.
• Home hazards are frequently a cause of accidents. Loose stair carpets and rugs and poorly fitting footwear and slippers that no longer have sufficient grip.
• Often their eyesight is beginning to fail and they particularly struggle in low light. They may fail to see the top step of the stairs or tripping over things that they had placed in a dangerous position.
• If they have an urgency to go to the toilet, this can result in them rushing. If it is too late, they might on a wet floor.
• Medication to reduce high blood pressure can result in them feeling dizzy if they get up too quickly and causing them to wobble or possibly collapse. Anyone on blood pressure reducing tablets should be encouraged to get up very slowly whilst holding onto something.
Carers should consider all these risks. They should work with the person they are caring for and with any external organisations to assess the likelihood of falling and minimise the risks.
First Aid for Falls:
Approach them calmly and reassuringly be alert to any dangers to either you or the casualty
Do not rush to move them. Get onto the floor so you are the same level as them and immediately assess:
- are they responsive?
- Not responsive – are they breathing?
- They are breathing. Look closely how they have fallen and carefully put them into the recovery position to keep their airway clear
- They are not breathing: start CPR immediately and act according to your organisation’s emergency policy. Request a defibrillator immediately if there is one available.
If the person is responsive
- Talk to them. Try and ascertain how the accident happened and if there could be any medical cause such as a fit or stroke – do not stress them if they are confused
- Try and work out where it hurts most and look at them closely to see if there is any obvious bleeding, bruising or contorted limbs indicating a particular injury.
- If they are conscious and you think they may have fallen from a height or could have injured their neck or spine – Do not move them. Try and keep them as still as possible and discourage them from twisting. Phone an ambulance and calmly keep reassuring them until paramedics arrive.
- If you are aware of any bleeding apply firm pressure with a clean pad whilst awaiting the First Aid kit.
- If they start to show signs of clinical shock – lie them back and raise their legs and get medical help
If there is no obvious injury or medical cause for the fall
- Carefully and very slowly help them into a sitting position – watch them carefully for any signs of pain, discomfort or dizziness
- With help, carefully assist them into a chair, or back to bed.
- Very carefully and reassuringly check them over completely to ensure that there is no unseen injury – this is particularly important with diabetics when they may not feel where they have hurt themselves.
- Monitor them carefully for the next 24 hours, inform their next of kin and fill in an accident form.