It’s the call you don’t want to get as a thousand images run through your mind, either picturing what actually happened—or what could have.
And you’re left wondering, WHAT NOW?
It’s an important question. To answer it, you’re going to need to ask other questions. Not every fall is a catastrophe, but it might mean some changes need to be made.
So, what do you need to ask to figure out your next steps?
Is She Just “Shaken, Not Stirred”?
Yes, falls hurt. At the very least, they cause bruised egos and aching joints. The only people unperturbed by falling? Toddlers learning to walk. And sky jumpers.
So Grandma’s tumble is probably going to leave her stunned. But, just like not every tape self-destructs in five seconds, not every fall means a major upheaval.
If it’s a one-time thing and she didn’t get physically hurt, just look around to see what happened and how you can prevent another one-time thing.
- Slippery rug?
- Grandkids left toys lying around?
- Her cane did the tango with the coffee table leg?
Make necessary adjustments for her safety.
Give her living room a furniture adjustment. Remind children that, in the wrong place, Legos become landmines. And if Grandma just can’t part with that decorative rug, hang it as wall art and buy a mat for the floor that’s more secure.
Thankfully, a simple fall like this gives you a chance to avoid worse situations. But how do you know if it’s already dangerous?
“Houston, We Have a Problem”
Again, even a simple fall can leave Grandma bruised. Yet what signs tell you it’s not just a one-time thing, but one-time too many—and it’s time for a major change?
The questions to ask?
- How badly she fell?
- How often has it happened?
- Does she have help available?
- Is the cause something preventable?
Let’s plunge in.
1. Did She Break Something?
Again, most any adult is going to have aches and pains from falling. But you need to see if it’s worse than a simple piece of chocolate can help soothe.
- Are her bones okay? Her hips? Her wrists?
- Did she hit her head? Get a concussion? Lose consciousness? How long was she out?
- Did she get cut? How deeply? How long did it take to stop the bleeding?
Your goal here is two-fold: What needs medical help now? and What could be even worse next time? If your answers look serious, then just falling once may be more than enough to warrant changes.
2. She Falls So Often, You Wonder if You’re Stuck in a Loop
Have you seen those YouTube videos with penguins belly flopping all over the place? They’re hilarious.
Not so much with Grandma.
If she always seems to be tripping, it may not matter how serious the falls are. You need to ask yourself if it’s safe to leave her home alone.
Why? Because one day one of those simple stumbles could land her at the bottom of the stairs.
It’s probably time to make sure she has someone checking on her.
3. “Can You Hear [Her] Now?”
Whether she’s fallen once or multiple times, in a simple bruiser or a total wipe-out, can she call for help?
This could mean having an accessible cell phone. It could mean wearing an emergency alert button. In this technological-wizardish age, it could mean commanding Alexa or one of her cohorts.
But with all of those, Grandma has to be able to make the call.
What if she can’t?
What happens if she loses consciousness? How long would she lie on the ground before someone finds her?
Which brings us to the next question.
4. “Like a Good Neighbor,” Can Someone Be There?
If Grandma lives alone, does someone check on her regularly? And if she can make the phone call, how quickly can someone get there to help her?
Even if she lives with you, if you work forty minutes away in traffic, she might need someone else closer.
5. Is There a “Quicker Picker-Upper?”
If Grandma falls and can’t get up, she’s going to need a hand. Maybe two. And strong ones at that.
Because helping an adult stand up safely from the ground—without hurting her even more—can be a multiple-person job, even if Grandma’s just a little thing.
Of course, if you happen to have a Rhett Butler in the neighborhood who can just sweep her in his arms and carry her up a huge flight of stairs, wonderful!
If not, you might need another option.
And speaking of options, so far we’ve just talked about how to help Grandma if she falls.
Will the Real Cause Please Stand Up?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could figure out why Grandma’s falling in the first place? And how can you help stop it?
There are some simple possibilities.
“Nothing Beats a Great Pair of Legs”
If Grandma’s sitting around a lot, not getting much exercise, her core strength’s going to suffer. And you’ve probably seen enough gym ads to know what that means.
Weak bones, weak joints, weak stability!
If possible, help her join a Senior Sneakers club or maybe a Senior swim aerobics class. See if your local Senior Day Center has gentle physical activities for Grandma to enjoy with friends.
That will strengthen her legs and her mind, helping her stand straight and tall.
How Do You Spell Relief?
Here’s the thing. While a spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down, that very medicine might be doing the same thing to Grandma.
Yes, you read that right. Her medicine could be the culprit, making her dizzy or unstable on her feet.
- Talk to her doctor about her blood pressure or diabetes medicine
- See if she’s taking sleeping pills, allergy medicines, antidepressants, or medicine for vertigo or an overactive bladder
Then it might be something she needs to add to her diet.
- She may be depleted in Vitamin D
- Her blood sugar could be low or her blood pressure, high
She could also be sick.
- Test for a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), pneumonia, strokes, or heart issues like A-Fib
- Analyze her blood for blood cell counts and electrolytes
- Check her fluid levels in her ears
It could even be as straightforward as:
- her shoes not fitting well or
- needing a new glasses prescription
Yes, sometimes her falling isn’t caused by any of these issues, but if it is, it can sure make things easier on both you AND her!
You Can Do It, We Can Help
Now that you’ve evaluated Grandma’s falls, you may be realizing you can’t help her all on your own. Maybe you live too far away, you work, you don’t have the physical strength to help her if she does fall.
You need support!
That’s why Frontida is here. Call us to talk about your options.
Because She’s Worth It!
Want to know more about keeping seniors physically healthy? Check out these other helpful posts.
Elizabeth Daghfal is a writer, teacher, speaker, and community volunteer. When she isn't teaching or writing-- Who are we kidding? Her husband and five kids say she's ALWAYS teaching and writing. She has a passion to help people who are struggling and is happy to say her shoulders are drip-dry. Born and raised in the South, she now lives in Wisconsin and loves it--except for the fifteen months of winter. Read more about her at elizabethdaghfal.com.