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Dealing with Falls

Caregiving Tips. September 11, 2017

Your loved one will probably fall. Any emergency-services people will advise you to call 9-1-1 and have her taken to a hospital for evaluation. While this is the safest thing to do, there's a problem.

To protect your loved one's back and neck, the paramedics will place her on a rigid board and put a neck brace on her. Depending on how busy the emergency ward is, she could spend several hours before these are removed. This is brutal and the effect on Sandra is extreme: I found it was taking two or three days for her to recover from a visit to the hospital when, in most cases, there was nothing wrong. So we have become good at doing an assessment ourselves before we decide to call an ambulance.

When she falls, my first step is to check her demeanor. If she's annoyed, I ask her if she's okay, and if I get a clear response, I help her get up. Otherwise, I check for broken bones by rotating her arms and legs and pressing on her hips and chest. Broken bones are painful, so if there's no pain, she probably doesn't have one. I also check whether she suffered a concussion. And just in case her fall was from a stroke, I check for that as well. Here are some simple tests:

Otherwise, help her get up, help her to the bedroom, and let her lie down and rest. It's also a good idea to keep a log of her falls, partly for her doctors to review and partly to create a record to head off legal charges.