As you age, things that used to frighten you no longer do. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. That is, some previously harmless things can be downright scary. For many Americans, falling turns up in the latter category. Still, what you do immediately after a fall matters.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 25% of Americans over the age of 65 fall every single year. These falls send about 3 million seniors to the emergency room. While falls can be wildly unpredictable, you should know how to get up safely after one. Here are six steps that may help.
1. Do not panic
It can be easy to panic following a fall. After all, falls are often serious for older individuals. Still, you should do your best to remain calm. Before trying to get up, you may want to let your heart rate and adrenaline levels return to normal.
2. Check for injuries
You do not want to try to get up if you have sustained an injury during a fall. As such, you must check yourself for injuries. First, note if you feel pain while staying still. Then, slowly move your arms, legs, hands and feet. If you feel any pain, instead of getting up, try to contact help.
3. Crawl to a fixed object
If you feel fine following your fall, you can probably try to get back on your feet. You should not, though, trust yourself to stand without assistance. Instead, roll over onto your hands and knees. Then, crawl to a fixed object, such as a chair or bed, that you can use to pull yourself up.
4. Slowly pull yourself up
After ensuring the stationary object is sturdy, put your hands on it. Then, bend one knee and place one foot flat on the floor. After pushing on the object with your hands, lean forward and bring the other foot into a flat position.
5. Turn and sit
Instead of trying to stand up and walk away immediately, turn yourself and sit on a piece of furniture. Then, rest for a bit. Dizziness, confusion and nausea often accompany falls. If you bumped your head, you may also have a traumatic brain injury. Therefore, you do not want disorientation to cause you to fall again.
6. Tell your doctor about your fall
Finally, after even minor falls, you should inform your doctor. He or she can examine you for easy-to-miss signs of injury. Likewise, your physician may be able to recommend options for limiting future falls.
As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Therefore, you should practice getting up from the floor in a controlled and safe environment with assistance from a family member or friend. By developing a plan to get up safely after a fall, you decrease your chances of sustaining further injury.