As we age, there is an increased likelihood of falling. Whether it is at home or in the community, falls are a leading cause of injury in older adults (65+ years old), many of which lead to ER visits and hospitalization. According to the CDC, in 2014 29 million adults reported falling (1). Fear of falling and losing function can cause anxiety, isolation, depression, and overall poorer quality of life (2).
An excellent way to prevent falling is to remain active, exercise, and be prepared. Check out this article for exercises designed to improve your balance. Even if you take all the appropriate actions to prevent a fall, falls happen. If you do fall, it is important to know how to safely get up.
Steps to get back to your feet safely
Ideally, after a fall there would be someone to help you safely get back up. However, this is often not the case. Follow this step by step process to ensure you can safely return to your feet without increasing your risk of injury.
2. If you are on your back or stomach roll onto your side and bring your legs up closer to your trunk. Using your arms push yourself into a side-sitting position. Remember to move slowly and give your body time to adjust back to an upright position.
4. Before getting up, locate any nearby furniture to use to assist you in getting up. If there is a piece of furniture (ie. Stable chair) nearby, use your arms to push you onto your hands and knees. Crawl over to the chair or couch.
5. Make sure you assess how your body is feeling throughout each step. Use the sturdy surface (couch or chair) to pull yourself up onto your knees in a kneeling position. You should now be facing the chair.
6. From this position, take one leg (preferably your stronger leg if you have one), and place it so your foot is flat on the ground with your knee bent (half kneeling).
7. Lastly, using both your arms and your legs push your body up into standing. Sit in the chair to relax prior to returning back to your activity or locating a phone.
Even if you do not believe you are seriously injured, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your doctor for a quick check-up to get a clean bill of health. Also, make sure to take steps to reduce another fall. Remove clutter, throw rugs, electrical cords from your home. Add night lights around your home or keep lights on for safe walking during the night. Lastly, consider joining an exercise program or seeing a physical therapist for strength and balance training.
1. Bergen G, Stevens MR, Burns ER. Falls and Fall Injuries Among Adults Aged ≥65 Years — the United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:993–998. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6537a2
2. Arfken CL, Lach HW, Birge SJ, Miller JP. The prevalence and correlates of fear of falling in elderly persons living in the community. American Journal of Public Health. 1994;84(4):565-570.