First Aid for Falls
Updated: 7 days ago
Every day, slips, stumbles, and falls cause a large number of hospital admissions and can have severe implications for human lives. A fall may happen to anybody, but the elderly are especially vulnerable. Falls are the leading cause of injury mortality in those over the age of 65. One in every three individuals over the age of 65 who live at home will fall at least once a year.
While the majority of falls do not result in significant damage, there is always the possibility that a fall may result in broken bones, which can cause the person to lose confidence, become withdrawn, and feel as if they have lost their independence, especially if their mobility is limited.
Why are older people more likely to fall?
Risk factors that contribute to older people falling generally belong to one of three categories:
Health-based risks – this includes things like balance problems, muscle weakness, chronic illnesses such as heart disease, dementia or low blood pressure, which can lead to dizziness, and medication side-effects.
Environmental risks – these are things like home hazards (e.g. wet floors, poorly secured carpets and rugs, inadequate lighting), outside hazards (e.g. icy driveways, steps with no handrail). This category can also include improper use of or failure to use a walker, cane, or other assistive device.
Triggers: These are the sudden or occasional events that cause a challenge to balance or strength. They can be things like reaching for storage areas, such as a cupboard, rushing to get to the toilet during the day or at night, a strong dog pulling on a lead or, particularly among older men, falling from a ladder while carrying out home maintenance work.
If older adults and family caregivers are encouraged to learn to think about fall risk factors, they can take positive steps to minimise the risks of falling.
What should I do if I’m alone and I fall?
Try to stay calm. If you’re not hurt and you feel strong enough, get up slowly
Roll on to your hands and knees and look for a stable piece of furniture, such as a chair or bed
Hold on to the furniture with both hands to support yourself and slowly get up
Sit down and rest for a while before carrying on with your daily activities
If you’re hurt or unable to get up, try to get someone’s attention by calling out for help, banging on the wall or floor, or using your aid call button (if you have one). If possible, crawl to a telephone and dial 995 to ask for an ambulance
Try to reach for something warm such as a blanket to put over you, particularly your legs and feet
Stay as comfortable as possible and try to change your position at least once every half an hour or so
First Aid for Falls – how to help someone who has had a fall
First check that you and the casualty aren’t in any danger
Approach the casualty calmly and reassuringly
Are they responsive (conscious)?
If not responsive – are they breathing?
If they are breathing normally, monitor their airway and breathing and wait for the ambulance
If they are not breathing call 995 for an ambulance immediately and ask someone to get a defibrillator
Leave the casualty in the position they’re in and open their airway (place 1 hand on the casualty’s forehead and gently tilt their head back, lifting the tip of the chin using 2 fingers. This moves the tongue away from the back of the throat.)
If this isn’t possible in the position they’re in, gently lay them on their back and open their airway
If you think the person may have a spinal injury, place your hands on either side of their head and use your fingertips to gently lift the angle of the jaw forward and upwards, without moving the head, to open the airway
If the casualty IS responsive (conscious):
Reassure them and try to find out how the accident happened. Be gentle and do not stress them if they are confused
See if there is any obvious bleeding, bruising or obvious sign of a bone injury
If 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.
Call 995 for an ambulance and keep reassuring them until paramedics arrive
If you are aware of any bleeding apply firm pressure with a sterile dressing from a first aid kit if possible, if not, use any clean cloth. If you have protective gloves, put them on before treating the casualty
This guidance is for information purposes only and is not a replacement for taking a first aid training course. Our long-standing organisation has a variety of first-aid courses, both in person and online, to get you up to scratch in no time. It’s skills you hope you never have to use, but are vital to learn.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the application of first aid principles and how they can help you, your organisation and those around you, we offer a comprehensive Standard First Aid Course The BLENDED Standard First Ai