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  • Andrea Cziprusz

How to Fall and Get Back UP

One out of four older adults fall each year, making falls the leading cause of injury in adults age 65+. Fall prevention is of the utmost importance, but preparing for a potential fall can also help reduce your injury risk.

A review of current literature indicates wearable medical devices are an effective way to detect falls and call for help. There are many devices out there, so do some research based on your individual needs and budget. If you are looking for something that doesn’t look like a traditional medical alert system and is multi-functional, check out the Apple Watch. You can turn on a fall detection setting, which will automatically call 911 and message your emergency contacts. You can compare more options using the resource below.

Knowing “how to fall” can help reduce your injury risk. Protecting your head is the top priority, as head injuries have the potential to be life-threatening. With a backwards fall, tuck your chin toward your chest. If falling forward, turn your head to the side. Try to bring your arms up beside your head for added protection. Although it's instinctive to reach out and try to catch yourself, landing with an outstretched arm is a common mechanism for wrist fractures and shoulder dislocations. It’s actually preferable to keep elbows and knees slightly bent as you fall. The more rigid your body is when you fall, the more likely you are to sustain an injury. Instead of trying to stop a fall as soon as you hit the ground, keep your body rolling to dissipate forces and spread the impact over a larger surface area.

If you have fallen, take a few minutes to collect yourself. After several deep breaths, evaluate how your body feels and identify any potential injuries. Then look for a sturdy piece of furniture (coffee table, chair, couch) to help you get up. When you feel ready, roll onto your side. Get your hands underneath you and make your way onto all fours (hands and knees). Crawl to the nearby furniture. Place your hands on the furniture, rising up to a high kneeling position. Then, bring your stronger leg or uninjured side forward, placing your foot flat on the ground in a half kneel position. From here, push through your arms and legs to come to a stand. Finally, turn to have a seat in the chair.

Use this illustrated diagram to guide you through each step.

Or watch this video for additional guidance.

If you don’t feel ready to start practicing getting up and down from the floor yet, you can focus on strength training for your upper and lower body. The resource below outlines a circuit of six exercises that help strengthen the muscle groups involved in this movement.

The best way to prevent a fall is to stay active! Incorporate simple balance exercises into your every day. Check your home for safety. Stand up slowly and take extra caution when you need it. If you feel unsteady, use an assistive device. The goal is to prevent a fall from happening, but in the event you do fall, it’s best to be prepared. Using a fall detection device, knowing “how to fall”, and practicing getting up and down from the floor can boost your confidence, safety, and independence.

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