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Prepare for Falls

two older women with phone If you have a fear of falling or if you have injuries or health conditions that put you at a higher risk of falling, you can protect yourself and gain confidence by:

 

Preparing Your Home
First, find and fix home hazards that may put you at higher risk for falls. Next, take these precautions to help you if a fall occurs:
  • Have a telephone or cell phone accessible in all areas of your home. Think about keeping phones on low shelves or tables (rather than mounted on a wall, for instance) in case you can’t get up after a fall.


  • Keep emergency contact numbers (health care provider, caregiver, and emergency contact person) on or near all of your phones. If you can, enter these numbers on speed dial.


  • If you live alone, ask a friend or family member to call or check in once or twice daily.


  • Consider getting a personal emergency response system, many options are covered under Medicaid. Talk with your health care provider for a recommendation.

 

Learning to Fall More Safely
There are things you can do to reduce your chance if injury if you do fall. Speak with your doctor about a referral to a physical or rehabilitative therapist who can help you with these safe-falling tips:
  • If your feel yourself falling, try to let your body go limp.


  • Keep your knees, wrists and elbows loose and bent. Don’t try to break your fall by landing on your hands or knees.


  • Tuck in your chin and throw your arms up around your ears to protect your head.

 

Getting Up Safely If You Do Fall
Learning how to get up safely and knowing what to do if you can’t get up can help you avoid making any injury worse. Talk with your provider about referrals to a physical therapist that can help you learn ways to get up safely.

If You Do Fall
  • Stay as calm as possible. Take a few deep breaths.


  • Remain still. Assess if you’re hurt before you start to move.


  • If you think you can get up safely, then remember to:
    • Move slowly toward a sturdy chair or piece of furniture that you can balance on to get up.


    • Pause if you feel dizzy.


    • Call your provider or your emergency contact. Even if you feel ok, you may have had a
      serious injury.


  • If you’re hurt and can’t get up on your own, don’t panic:
    • Activate your emergency response alert system, call 911 or call out loud for help.


See a visual guide with more detailed steps on safely getting up from a fall.

 

Talk to a Doctor
See a doctor or other health care provider after you fall even if you don’t think you are seriously hurt. Write down the details of your fall as soon as you can and then discuss them with your doctor. Include details such as:
  • How you were feeling before you fell (for example: dizzy, weak, tired, confused or had blurry vision or blacked out);


  • Where you were when you fell (for example: in the kitchen, in the bathroom, on the street or at the store);


  • What you were doing when you fell (for example: taking a shower, using the toilet or walking in a crosswalk);


  • Any recent changes in your health, like taking a new medication or having a new symptom like any pain; and


  • Any recent stressful event, like the loss of a loved one or feelings of depression.
Once you and your health care providers understand why you may have fallen, you can take steps to protect yourself in the future. Fear of falling is common after having a fall, but there are ways to cope with it.

 

Last Updated: February 21, 2012