Living Well

Preventing falls: How to prepare and what to do

Michael Iacono, MD
Preventing falls: How to prepare and what to do

Falling is not something you want to think about. But it can make a big difference to plan ahead. If you're prepared, you'll know how to get help and you'll be less likely to panic if you fall. That means you'll be able to do what's needed to get help right away.

How to prepare

  • Have a family member, friend, or neighbor check on you daily.
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers near the phone 
  • Keep a list of medications (with dosages and how many/day it should be taken) in your wallet. Share the list with your caretaker or close family member as well.
  • Always have a way to call for help. Always keep a cell phone with you or talk with your primary care provider about how to set up a home monitoring service. This involves wearing a small device around your neck or wrist. If you fall, you can press the button on the device which will alert emergency responders to come to your aid.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about an exercise program that's right for you, whether that be at a local fitness center or simply in the comfort of your own home. Regular exercise may reduce the risk of falling and the risk for injury related to a fall.
  • Have good lighting around your home and don't use throw rugs because they can raise your risk of tripping and falling. Small changes such as adding grab bars in the bathroom to help reduce the risk of falling, can make your home safer.

What to do if you fall

  • Above all, try to stay calm.
  • If you start to fall, try to relax your body. This will reduce the impact of the fall.
  • After you fall, press your monitor button or use your phone to call for help.
  • Don't rush to get up. First, make sure you're not hurt.
  • Roll onto your side, then crawl to a chair. Pull yourself up onto the chair slowly.
  • Get checked by a physician if you hit your head, lost consciousness, were confused afterward, or have any other concerns for injury.
  • Alert your primary care provider that you fell.

A note to family and friends

If you're with a loved one when he or she starts to fall, don't try to stop the fall. Ease the person to the floor carefully, so neither of you gets hurt. Don't leave the person alone and don't try to move them. If help is needed right away, call 911.

If your fall requires medical attention in our emergency room, we want you to know we’ve made major changes for our senior patients who deserve extraordinary care. We’ve created a safe place for our seasoned seniors to seek fast, attentive emergency care. Here are some of the perks you can expect from our senior-friendly emergency room:

  • Designated nurse navigator and senior emergency care physician
  • Access to readily available walkers, canes, and wheelchairs
  • ER online check-in feature to schedule a convenient arrival time
  • Specialized senior health screenings for dementia and delirium
  • Enhanced patient rooms with fall preventative flooring, large clocks, soothing lighting, and comfortable bedding
  • Door-to-doctor access with little to no wait times

Learn more about our senior care emergency room and all the ways we make our seniors feel extra special by visiting wjmc.org/senior.
 

About Dr. Michael Iacono:
Dr. Iacono is an Emergency Physician at West Jefferson Medical Center.

He completed medical school at Case Western Reserve University and completed his emergency medicine residency training at LSU in New Orleans in 2018. He is board certified in Emergency Medicine.