I’ve Fallen. What Do I Do Now?

Staying Put at Home Tips for Mobility It happens countless times each year in every community: a senior loses his or her balance and falls down.

The risk of a fall causes anxiety and worry, and the results can be debilitating. When a fall occurs, it can be hard to know what to do next.

Feeling safe in your own home is the cornerstone of Aging in Place. Many seniors unfortunately believe they can’t successfully stay in good health in the homes they’ve had for years. While you can take preventative measures around your home to safeguard yourself, there’s still the vexing question as to what to do in the immediate aftermath of a fall. For this post, Staying Put at Home will look at what you should do in the event of a fall in your home and alone.

Stay Calm and Evaluate Your Surrounding

After you’ve fallen, it’s natural to panic. However, keeping a level head during this situation will be of the utmost importance. Take a few deep breaths to regroup. Once you’ve done this, look around the room to see what could help you either get up or call for help. Then, remain on the ground for a few minutes to assess whether you are able to move or if you are feeling any pain.

Getting Up

Now that you’re calm, you can try to get up. If you think you can get up safely, roll over on to your side. Next, get to your hands and knees and try crawling to nearby furniture, like a chair or sofa. Once you’re there, rest a moment. After you’ve gathered enough strength, try to get to a kneeling position. From there, try turning and getting on the seat.

Getting Help

Once you’re in a seated position, rested and calm, consider whether you need to call an ambulance, your family or your caregiver.

I Can’t Get Up

If you are unable to reach a phone, then try to maneuver to an area where you can be heard by neighbors. Also try to find a position that is comfortable, as you don’t want any more stress. From this position, try calling out for help. It is also a good idea to have someone you trust check in on you every day, whether that person is a family member, friend, neighbor or hired caregiver. Even a routine phone call each day could help tip this person off that something is amiss. Preparing a schedule with someone for regular visits or calls before an emergency occurs is your safest bet to staying safe inside your home.

Emergency Response System

Having an Emergency Response System in place can provide peace of mind. In emergencies such as falls, an Emergency Response device can be life-saving, as it will help you to get immediate help should you be injured. When one-third of seniors over the age of 65 fall each year, it’s important to have a plan in place for your safety and peace of mind.

We hope that this article has given you a few ideas for how best to handle a fall. If you have any advice that you’d like to offer to the Staying Put at Home community, please share in our comment section.

Exercise At Home: How to Improve Stamina, Mobility and Balance

Staying Put at Home Tips for Mobility Although exercise may sound great, it’s often difficult to get out of your house and go for a walk or to the gym. However, an active lifestyle can keep you in your home longer. Exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions, including heart disease and arthritis.1 Physical exertion can also benefit brain activity, preventing memory loss and slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s.2 Older adults are recommended to have 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week and muscle-strengthening activities for at least two days a week.3 This week, Staying Put at Home will look at some simple aerobic, balance and core strengthening exercises that you can do at home that will improve your stamina, mobility and balance.

Aerobic Exercises

Increased aerobic and cardiovascular activity has been linked to decreases in cholesterol, hypertension and depression.4 Here are a few aerobic exercises you can do at home:

  • Garden, mow or rake your lawn
  • Sweep your floors
  • March or jog in place
  • If you have one, walk on your treadmill or ride a stationary bike
  • If you don’t have a treadmill, then just walk around your home at a consistent pace

Start slowly; you don’t need to sprint right out of the gate. Make sure you find the duration and exercises that work best for you. If you feel any discomfort (like chest pain or dizziness), then slow down to a more relaxed rate.

Balance Exercises

Improving your balance can be a great way to deter dangerous falls. As we have discussed elsewhere on Staying Put at Home, senior falls can often lead to hip fractures and long stays in hospitals and nursing homes. Try out some of these exercises so that your balance remains steady:

  • Walk heel to toe in a straight line, then repeat for 20 steps.
  • Stand on one foot behind a chair, using the chair for balance. Then, hold for ten seconds and repeat with the other leg.
  • Stand behind a chair, using it for balance. Then, lift up one leg behind you without bending your knee. Hold this position for a few seconds and breathe out as you lower your leg.
  • While sitting down, have both feet planted on the ground. Extend one leg in front of you as straight as possible, without locking your knee. Then, point your toes toward the ceiling and hold for one second. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg back down.
  • While sitting down, extend your right knee and move your foot in a circle 20 times. Then, repeat with the other foot.

When exercising, avoid wearing clothes that restrict you or that are overly baggy, as these could be trip hazards.

Core Exercises

The deep muscles of your stomach and lower back are commonly referred to as your “core muscles.” Strengthening your core can reduce your risk of falls by improving balance and coordination. Research has shown that a strong core can increase strength by 30% and balance by 23% in seniors.5 Here are a few core exercises you can do at home.

Some of these exercises require you to lie down on the floor. Make sure you have a way to stand up, like balancing yourself on sturdy furniture or having a partner nearby.

  • Seated Side Bends:
  1. Sit up straight and remain seated throughout
  2. Draw your belly button toward your spine
  3. Curl your upper chest and spine toward your right side
  4. After a couple seconds, uncurl
  5. Repeat exercise on your left side
  • Elbow to Knee:
  1. Sit up straight on the edge of your chair
  2. Raise your right hand up toward the ceiling
  3. Raise your left knee and bend your elbow to bring your right arm down
  4. Touch your left knee with your right elbow
  5. Return to starting position
  6. After 8 to 10 repetitions, repeat the exercise using your left arm and your right knee
  • Seated Obliques:
  1. Sit upright in a chair
  2. Bring your hands behind your head with your elbows out
  3. Stretch your right elbow toward your right hip
  4. Bring your right elbow back up
  5. After 8 to 10 repetitions, repeat the exercise on your left side
  • Leg Lift:
  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs flat
  2. Contract your abdominal muscles and raise one leg five inches off the ground
  3. Count to three and lower your leg
  4. Repeat with the other leg
  • Segmental Rotation:
  1. Lie on your back and keep your shoulders on the floor throughout
  2. Bend your knees
  3. Tilt your knees to your left as far as you can
  4. Hold this for as long as you feel comfortable
  5. Return to your starting position and repeat with your right side
  • Plank:
  1. Start in the “up” part of a push-up
  2. Keep your back flat
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds
  • Bicycle:
  1. Lie on your back
  2. Pedal your legs like you are riding a bicycle
  3. Continue this for 30 seconds

Getting Up Off the Floor

While we have provided a bit of advice above about getting off the floor, we realize that you can often find yourself in a situation where assistance is not close at hand. If you are having a hard time standing up, follow these steps:

  1. Take a moment to relax and compose yourself. Make sure you are not injured, lightheaded or otherwise unable to stand.
  2. If you are not hurt, then roll onto your side.
  3. After you are comfortable on your side, slowly get on your hands and knees.
  4. Crawl toward the nearest chair or piece of furniture.
  5. Make sure it is stable enough to use as support.
  6. Put your hands on the seat or the flat surface. Slide one foot forward so that it is flat on the floor. Keep the knee of your other leg bent so that your leg lies flat on the ground.
  7. Slowly rise up and turn so that you can sit down in the chair.

If you are unable to complete these steps because you are hurt, then try to find a phone and call for help.

Remember, if you have trouble breathing, have chest pain or experience dizziness, then take a break and consult a medical professional. Always consult a physician before beginning an exercise routine. Ask your doctor if there are any exercises you should avoid based on your medical history. If you have any advice or suggestions, please share in our comment section.

1. Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging | Return to Text
2. Exercise and Fitness as You Age | Return to Text
3. How Much Physical Activity Do Older Adults Need? | Return to Text
4. Aerobic Exercise in the Elderly: A Key to Successful Aging | Return to Text
5. Core Strengthening Exercises for Seniors | Return to Text

Arthritis-Friendly Exercise: Water Aerobics

Staying Put at Home Tips for Mobility Is being active a part of your life? If you suffer from arthritis, you might actually do all you can to avoid physical activity. As many orthopedic experts caution, though, trying to stop achy joints with a sedentary lifestyle may result only in more pain when you do move. Too little exercise can also lead to other health problems such as obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Staying Put at Home understands that not all types of exercise may benefit arthritis sufferers. In fact, high-impact activities might aggravate joint deterioration. However, you can find workout options to fit your interests and health needs. In the last of our series on arthritis-friendly exercise, we discuss water aerobics, an enjoyable way to get moving, get wet and get in shape.

How Water Helps Joints

Why does the Arthritis Foundation recommend water activities for arthritis sufferers? Well, consider how much harder it is to move your arms or legs through water than in air. The resistance you feel has two major benefits. One, it provides a buoyant buffer around your joints. So when you take a step in water, your joints experience significantly less stress than when you walk on land. Two, it requires you to use more energy as you move from point A to point B, which means greater muscle exertion. Stronger muscles take the burden of motion off your joints, and as a result, you can slow their arthritic decline.

What You Can Do in the Water

The possibilities of water exercise are hindered only by your imagination. With the mention of water aerobics, many people think of choreographed movements taught by an instructor. While true that you can reap the benefits of exercise through this type of workout, it is only one of many water activities. You can just as easily walk the shallow section of a pool from one end to the other to get your physical activity. You might also consider another popular pool pastime: swimming. Even if you haven’t perfected your butterfly or freestyle, you can still get a good workout by doing a few laps of your favorite stroke.

Where to Take Advantage of Water Aerobics

If you have a pool in your backyard, you don’t even have to leave your house to enjoy the benefits of water aerobics. But if a private pool isn’t at your disposal, explore your local recreational center or school. Many public facilities have indoor pools that you can use year-round. So no matter how cold it gets outside, you can still hop into a pool and enjoy your favorite water exercise. Community centers often provide water aerobic classes as well. If the idea of working out alone puts you off exercising entirely, enlist your friends for a class so that you can get your heart rate up and catch up all at the same time.