How to Safely Pick a Loved One (or Yourself) Up After a Fall (2023)

Anne-Marie Botek

How to Safely Pick a Loved One (or Yourself) Up After a Fall (1)

Falls are a common occurrence for seniors, and, as many family caregivers know, they can be very frightening. Once the initial shock wears off, family members are often left wondering how to get an elder up off the floor and back on their feet.

Who to Call When an Elderly Person Falls

First and foremost, family caregivers need (or should request) help with handling senior falls. Unfortunately, deciding whose help you need isn’t always easy. The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, the most important of which is whether the senior was injured in the fall. It is always safest to call 911 for emergency help.

Even if medical assistance isn’t required, first responders can provide the brawn to get a loved one off the floor safely and the expertise to confirm whether they need to go to the hospital for testing and/or treatment.

It is extremely common for a panicked caregiver to hurt themselves while trying to pick up a senior after a fall. This can have long-lasting consequences and prevent one from seeing to their caregiving duties for days, weeks or longer, depending on the severity of the injury. Taking matters into your own hands also puts your loved one at risk of being dropped or maneuvered incorrectly. If there is any doubt that you and your care recipient cannot handle the situation safely, call your local non-emergency police and fire number to request that EMTs or the fire department come out for what is called a “lift assist.”

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Below are some general guidelines that can help you get a loved one upright, without hurting them (or yourself) in the process. Keep in mind that these strategies should only be used when you know your loved one hasn’t sustained an injury. Excess movement can cause further harm.

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What to Do if an Elderly Person Falls Down

  1. Stay calm and help your loved one to remain calm by encouraging them to take slow, deep breaths.
  2. Examine them for injuries like bruises, bleeding, possible sprains and broken bones.
  3. Ask them if they are experiencing any pain, where it is located and how severe it is.
  4. If they have a serious injury (e.g., a broken bone, bleeding), then don’t move them. Call 911 and keep your loved one as warm, comfortable and still as possible until help arrives.
  5. If they aren’t badly hurt and they want to get up, proceed slowly. Stop at any point if they become stuck, experience pain or become too tired to get all the way up.
  6. Find two sturdy chairs. Place one next to the senior’s head and the other down by their feet. Keep in mind that your loved one must be capable of doing the physical work required to get up. Your role is to help guide them through these steps and keep them steady, not lift their weight. If they cannot do this, then call to request a lift assist.
  7. Help your loved one roll over onto their side and assist them in getting onto their hands and knees. If they suffer from sore knees, place a towel beneath them to make this step more comfortable.
  8. Move the chair closest to their head directly in front of where they are so they can rise up to place their hands evenly on the seat and assume a kneeling position.
  9. Ask the senior to lean forward on the seat as they bring their strongest leg forward, leading with the knee to place their foot flat on the floor. The senior should look like they are in a kneeling lunge at the end of this step.
  10. Move the second chair directly behind your loved one, then ask them to use both their arms and legs to push themselves up and sit back into this chair. You can use your hands to keep your loved one steady, but keep your back upright and make sure they are doing the physical work to lift themselves.
  11. Keep the senior seated until you’re confident they can stand and continue moving around without hurting themselves or falling again.
  12. Immediately notify their doctor that they’ve had a fall and keep an eye out for emerging pain and signs of injury.

How to Get Back Up After You Have Fallen

Much as we’d like to hope so, family caregivers aren’t immune to falling. Commit these steps to memory to ensure you’re prepared if you take a spill.

  1. Stay calm and take a few deep breaths.
  2. Examine yourself for injuries.
  3. If you find that you are injured or unable to get up, try to alert someone to your predicament. While you’re waiting for help, try to keep warm and stay calm.
  4. If you are confident you haven’t broken any bones or experienced a serious injury, search for the nearest piece of sturdy furniture. (A chair would be ideal.)
  5. Slowly roll onto your side and then work to get onto your hands and knees.
  6. Crawl or drag yourself over to the piece of furniture.
  7. Get into a kneeling position and place your hands on a stable part of the piece of furniture (e.g., the seat of a chair).
  8. Choose your strongest leg and move that knee forward to place your foot flat on the floor. You should end up in a kneeling lunge with your hands still on the piece of furniture for support.
  9. Using your arms and legs simultaneously, push yourself up and pivot around until you’re sitting on the piece of furniture.
  10. Stay seated until you’re confident you can move around without hurting yourself or falling again.
  11. Once you are up, notify your doctor that you’ve had a fall and keep an eye out for emerging pain or signs of injury.

Falls Should Never Remain Secret

Even though one in every four adults aged 65 and older experiences a fall each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that fewer than half of these individuals tell their physician about it. Seniors often consider falls embarrassing indicators of their decline and impending reliance on others for assistance. It’s natural to want to downplay these incidents, but doing so may actually limit an older adult’s independence in the long run because it prevents them from receiving proper support and learning about fall prevention measures. In fact, research has shown that falling once doubles a senior’s chances of falling again. Repeated falls are indicative of an underlying problem that requires medical attention and should not be ignored. Frequent falls increase the risk of incurring a fall-related injury, such as a broken hip or a head injury, and often lead seniors to limit their everyday activities out of fear.

Awareness of this problem gives family members the opportunity to improve home safety measures and allows doctors to work with their patients to find solutions. This is crucial if falls are becoming more frequent. Small efforts like reducing clutter, installing grab bars, using a mobility aid, altering prescription medications, participating in physical and/or occupational therapy, and purchasing a medical alert system can make all the difference.

Regardless of whether it is you or your aging loved one who experiences a fall, it’s essential to notify a doctor about the event. He or she can make sure no injuries were sustained and suggest ways to prevent future tumbles.

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Sources: CDC Injury Center: Important Facts About Falls (https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html); Incidence of and risk factors for falls and injurious falls among the community-dwelling elderly (https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a116681)

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FAQs

How do you pick up someone when they fall? ›

Ask them to push up with their arms and legs, then sit back in the chair behind them. Guide them onto the seat. Do not lift them. Always call the person's healthcare provider to let them know about the fall.

How should an elderly person get up from a fall? ›

If there are no injuries, slowly roll onto your side, starting the movement with your head and moving down your body toward your feet. Take a moment to rest. Slowly push up into a crawling position and crawl slowly on hands and knees toward a sturdy chair or piece of furniture. Don't rush and rest as needed.

How do you lift someone off the floor by yourself? ›

Patient should clasp their hands together for proper setup and make it easy for you to grab hold. From behind patient, reach around and through under their arms and grab their forearms with your hands. (Your palms facing down.) Squat deep and stay close to their body & lift with your legs.

How do you lift a person safely? ›

So be sure to always establish a clear path prior to lifting and moving from their starting point to

How do you pick up a heavy person who has fallen? ›

Always lift the person by their hips.

Never pull or grab under their arms as this can cause extreme pain. The muscles in the arms do not handle force well. Consider the use of a transfer belt if you are not able to hold your loved one by their hips.

How do you pick up an elderly person from the floor? ›

So i'm going to ask her to bring your strong leg up in front of you so that the foot is flat on the

Can elderly regain leg strength? ›

"Older people can definitely regain good leg strength if they do regular strengthening exercises and increase the intensity of their exercises in a slow and safe way.

How do you get up from the floor seniors? ›

Okay and we're going to lean our weight shift forward and use that leg and arms to push ourselves up

How do you get out of a fall without kneeling? ›

Take a rest, and with your hands, prop yourself up on the first step. Your legs or knees don't have to move, and you are only using the strength in your arms. You can then prop yourself up onto the second step, and from there, try to stand up.

What should you do after a fall? ›

It's always best to see a doctor after you fall. You may feel okay now, but there are many injuries that won't show symptoms right away. If you wait, these injuries could get worse before you realize you are hurt. If you hit your head, it's especially important to get checked out by a medical professional.

What to do if someone has a fall? ›

If the person is responsive

If they are conscious and 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. Phone an ambulance and calmly keep reassuring them until paramedics arrive.

How do you pick up a person? ›

So now all you got to do is stand up you're going to go into a lunge position. Stand up and then you

What are the rules on lifting and moving a patient? ›

Never turn or twist. Do not compensate when lifting with one hand. Keep weight as close as possible to your body. Use a stair chair when carrying patient on stairs whenever possible.

How do you pull a patient up in bed alone? ›

Position yourself at the foot of the patient's bed facing the patient spine upright shoulders back

How do you lift an elderly person from a chair? ›

Their back gently. Help the person to lean forward and then help them to stand. Remember that to

How do you get off the floor after a fall? ›

Getting up from a fall

Roll onto your side. Push yourself up to a side sitting position. Slowly get onto your hands and knees. Crawl towards a sturdy piece of furniture that can support you to get up – such as a solid chair or sofa.

Is it normal for a 70 year old to be tired? ›

ABSTRACT: Fatigue is a common symptom in elderly persons, but it is often ignored as many patients and healthcare providers assume it is a natural progression of aging or may mistake it for somnolence, dyspnea, or muscle weakness.

How much sleep does a senior need? ›

Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as all adults—7 to 9 hours each night. But, older people tend to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier than they did when they were younger. There are many reasons why older people may not get enough sleep at night.

Why do elderly have weak legs? ›

Weak legs are a common problem in seniors because we lose muscle mass as we get older. As we age, we tend to become less active, and this causes a reduction in our muscle strength. While some physical conditions can cause leg weakness, chances are, your weak leg muscles are part of the aging process.

How long do seniors live after a fall? ›

Those who had reported >1 fall in the last 3 months had an average mortality of 16.4% in the next year (40.5% mortality over 3 years) compared with 8.5% (25.7% over 3 years) for non-fallers. The highest mortality was confined to those aged over 85 years (both genders).

How do I get off the floor without using my hands or knees? ›

Put your left foot in front of your right foot. You've got a shift. Forward. So notice I'm using my

Should you pick someone up if they fall? ›

If they are not badly hurt, take things slowly and gently help them to their feet or use a lifting hoist to get them up. Once they are up, keep an eye on them and notify their doctor that they have had a fall.

How do you physically pick up someone? ›

So now all you got to do is stand up you're going to go into a lunge position. Stand up and then you

What to do if someone has a fall? ›

If the person is responsive

If they are conscious and 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. Phone an ambulance and calmly keep reassuring them until paramedics arrive.

What to do if someone falls at home and can't get up? ›

Calling for help
  1. use a community alarm, if you have one.
  2. use a phone to call a relative, friend or neighbour. If you're injured, phone 999 and ask for an ambulance. ...
  3. ask your smart speaker, if you have one, to call someone who can help you.
  4. try shouting, or banging on a wall, to try to attract your neighbour's attention.
16 Sept 2021

What do you say when someone falls? ›

Sorry for your injury. If you happen to need anything, I'm just one call away. I hope you get to work as soon as possible but don't rush the recovery process.

What two things must you never do when dealing with a falling person and why? ›

If your client is bleeding or seems confused or you suspect a bump on the head, you should not move them but call and have them checked out. Err on the side of caution and do not try to lift without help. Do not put yourself at risk in the effort of picking up a client. Be sensible and get help first.

How do you pick up an unconscious body? ›

Put your back against the chest. Holding a wrist in each hand, bend your knees and pull up until the person's armpits are over your shoulders. Draw the arms down and in close to your body to keep them in place. “Lean forward slightly in the direction of travel, and then move,” Lethgo says.

How do you pick someone up from your shoulder? ›

SHOULDER PULL

Grasp the victim by the clothing under the shoulders. Keep your arms on both sides of the head. Support the head. Try to keep the pull as straight and in-line as possible.

How do you get an older person off the floor? ›

Choose your strongest leg and move that knee forward to place your foot flat on the floor. You should end up in a kneeling lunge with your hands still on the piece of furniture for support. Using your arms and legs simultaneously, push yourself up and pivot around until you're sitting on the piece of furniture.

How long do seniors live after a fall? ›

Those who had reported >1 fall in the last 3 months had an average mortality of 16.4% in the next year (40.5% mortality over 3 years) compared with 8.5% (25.7% over 3 years) for non-fallers. The highest mortality was confined to those aged over 85 years (both genders).

What should you do after you fall on your back? ›

Apply heat or ice to the painful area. Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then use heat. Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Sleep in a curled-up, fetal position with a pillow between your legs.

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