Helpful TIPS to Lift an Elderly Person from the Floor!

Advanced age comes with strength, gait, and balance-related challenges. These problems can easily result in falls, making it important for family members, older adults, and caregivers to know how to handle falls. Falls are responsible for injuries, trauma, fractures, and loss of independence for many seniors. There are several fall-prevention measures to reduce the possibility of a fall, but if it still happens, this guide will outline the crucial steps you need to take on how to lift an elderly person off the floor.

Who to Call When an Elderly Person Falls

To start, it is always advisable to request help when an elderly person falls. This applies to family members, caregivers, and at times, professional homecare service givers. However, figuring out who to call is easier said than done. The ideal person or entity to reach out to depends largely on the fall’s severity. If you are not a qualified medical professional, the best bet is to call 911 and let the first responders evaluate the elderly person and decide whether they need additional medical assistance.

Even if the senior does not require additional medical help, such first responders can be of great help in getting them off the floor safely. Keep in mind that as a caregiver, you can easily get injured trying to lift a heavy person off the floor. If there is even some minor doubt that you cannot handle the elderly person correctly, feel free to call your local fire number or non-emergency police number and request EMTs equipped with a lift assist.

When to Call 911

Here is a brief guide on when you need to call 911 in case of a fall.

  • If the senior has fallen and is conscious, immediately call 911 and DO NOT move them.
  • If the person is experiencing back, groin, hip, head, or knee pain, it is best to call 911 right away. This also applies when the elderly person is experiencing dizziness or disorientation.
  • If the person is bleeding, call 911 immediately.

When to Seek Non-Emergency Medical Care

  • If the elderly person does not require emergency medical care, you can skip the 911 call but you will need to get them to a doctor. Here is a brief guide on when to seek non-emergency medical care.
  • If the elderly person is fully conscious and communicating clearly, let them rest for a while and allow their body to adjust to the potential shock and discomfort. At this point, assess the person for any visible injuries such as bruises, bleeding, broken teeth, or bones. If none of these signs are visible, take the person to the hospital for further checkups.
  • If the elderly person begins to experience a headache or reports to have hit their head during the fall. This often calls for a CT scan to establish whether there was any internal injury or bleeding.
  • If the elderly person has had a cut on their skin that may require stitching or some other medical attention.
  • If the elderly person reports any joint or bone discomfort. They need to be checked by a doctor for potential bone breakages or joint dislocation.
  • If the elderly person has problems coordinating their muscles after the fall.
  • If the elderly person has a reduced range of motion or mental capacity after the fall.

Assess for Injuries

A fall can result in a wide range of injuries, especially in an elderly person with poor muscle strength. Here is a look at some common injuries [1] that one should look out for after a fall.

  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Head injuries
  • Hip fractures
  • Internal bleeding
  • Knee injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Neck injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Sprains and fractures

Here is a simple head-to-toe injury assessment guide [2] from the Red Cross.

  • Check the senior’s head, focusing on their nose, mouth, ears, face, and scalp. Look out for any abnormalities that might have happened as a result of the fall.
  • Look for depressions, bumps, bruises, and cuts. If you are not sure whether a part of their body is injured, compare it to the opposite side of their body.
  • Watch for any changes in consciousness. Evaluate whether the person appears confused, drowsy, or is generally not alert.
  • Look out for any changes in the person’s breathing. A healthy person should breathe regularly, quietly, easily, and without discomfort and pain. Abnormal breathing includes very fast or very slow inhalation, painful breathing, gurgling, rasping, whistling, and gasping for air.
  • Assess how the skin feels and looks. Use the back of your hand to determine whether the senior’s skin feels abnormally hot, cold, or damp. You should also check for changes in skin appearance such as reddening, ashen, or pale-looking.
  • Look over the entire body. When doing this, ask the senior to move every moveable body part that does not hurt. Lastly, ask them to move their head from side to side.

Clear the Surrounding Area

When getting a person off the floor, it is important to clear the surrounding area. This makes it easy for first responders to access the person. Additionally, a clutter-free environment minimizes the risk of another person slipping and falling. If the elderly person is not hurt, feels well enough, and can communicate clearly, try to get them off the floor. The exact steps to take might differ slightly from one person to another. However, here are some general ones that will apply to many people.

  • Roll the senior onto his/her side
  • Lift their back into a sitting position
  • Help them get onto their hands and knees.
  • Move a chair or sofa close to them.
  • Have them kneel sideways to the chair with their strongest leg closest to the chair.
  • Slide the senior’s strongest left foot forwards, placing it flat on the floor
  • The knee on the weaker leg should remain on the floor.
  • Put the senior’s hands on the sofa or chair.
  • Raise and turn their body until their bottom is securely on the chair
  • Let them rest for a while and check for injuries again.

If the person requires emergency medical care, you will need to call 911. For easy patient care and access, your home environment needs to meet some standards [3]. Below is a brief look.

  • Ensure your house number is clearly visible so that the 911 responders can find you easily.
  • If your house has a porch light, ensure it’s lit, even if it’s daytime. If possible, have someone meet and flag down the ambulance.
  • Do not dress the elderly person any further since the emergency response crew may need to access the person’s abdomen, chest, and arms for certain tests.
  • Secure any pets in a different room. Even the friendliest of pets can often turn violent when strangers suddenly burst into a room. Such pets can get in the way of medical personnel, making it harder to access the patient.
  • Move all furniture out of the way. If possible, ensure that the entire area surrounding the senior is cleared. This involves getting all seats, tables, and electrical appliances out of the way. It is also advisable to turn on every light in the room.
  • Ensure the entire room is free of lit cigarettes since the emergency crew might have to use oxygen tanks.

Help Bring the Elderly Person to a Kneeling Position

When an elderly person slips and falls, getting them to a kneeling position [4] is among the essential steps. Before doing anything, though, let the person stay still for a few minutes after the fall. Any abrupt movements can worsen any injuries that may have occurred. Figure out whether the person is injured using the Red Cross procedure outlined earlier.

  • If there aren’t any injuries, slowly roll the senior onto their side, start the motion with their head, and progress downwards towards their feet.
  • Let the person rest for a few minutes.
  • Help the senior into a crawling position where they are on their knees and hands
  • Move a piece of furniture (preferably a chair) close to them and have them rest their hands on the chair
  • Make the entire process slow to avoid overworking the senior’s muscles. Once the senior’s hands are rested on the chair, they will have assumed a kneeling position.

When You Have Had Knee Replacement

With most seniors, it is quite probable to have had a knee replacement [5] or some other form of knee procedure. If this sounds like you or your loved one, you might have reservations regarding the kneeling position. Typically, one is advised to wait six months after a knee-replacement surgery before kneeling. If a shorter time has elapsed since the operation, you might want to skip the kneeling section of the post-fall procedure. If six months or more have elapsed since the knee replacement, it is safe to have the senior kneeling.

Use Medical Equipment to Assist

At times, getting an elderly off the floor after a fall can become quite challenging due to wide-ranging reasons. For example, if the senior is significantly heavy, lifting them might be quite daunting. Additionally, sometimes it is better to use medical lifting equipment or other standing aids to prevent further muscle or tissue damage. Below are some common medical pieces of equipment that can come in handy after a slip and fall.

Step-ladder Equipment

Step-ladder devices are step-based lifting assistance tools that are extremely useful in getting people off the floor. Generally, these tools are designed to lift a person’s bottom using incremental steps from one ‘stair’ to the next. Once the person is seated on the top step, they can then be transferred onto a wheelchair, bed, or sofa. Most of these step-ladder devices are quite portable, making them excellent lifting aids if a slip and fall occurs in the house or outside.

Ceiling Lifts

These are mechanical hoists designed to lift a patient off the floor. For the hoist to work, the patient needs to be rolled over onto a cloth, fastened onto the hoist, and lifted off the ground with the push of a button. Some of these hoists come with wheels at the bases, enhancing mobility and portability. However, others are significantly harder to get from one place to another.

Inflatable Lifts

These are essentially inflatable seats that help lift a patient off the floor. To use the device, roll the patient onto the deflated lift and then inflate it until it raises the patient to a seated level. These lifts are perhaps the lightest and most portable lifting aids.

Transfer Vests

Transfer vests are designed to let a caregiver or responder assist an elderly person with getting off the floor. Typically, two people should operate the transfer jacket. However, it can still function with a single person, albeit with significantly less safety levels for everyone involved.

Conclusion

Slip-and-fall accidents can be quite dangerous if not handled correctly. As people get older, the reduced muscle strength, balance, poor vision, and uncoordinated movements can easily result in falls. To prevent further complications after a fall, kindly follow the tips and procedures outlined by medical professionals, some of which this guide has covered.

Citations

  1. https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/preventing-falls/dealing-with-a-fall/what-to-do-if-you-fall
  2. https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/first-aid/performing-first-aid/first-aid-steps
  3. http://tirescue.org/helpful-tips/prepare-for-ambulance-call
  4. https://dailycaring.com/video-how-to-safely-get-up-after-a-fall/
  5. https://www.vidawellness.co.uk/how-to-practice-getting-down-to-and-back-up-from-the-floor/
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