I've fallen. Now how do I get up?
We are all familiar with the phrase: "Help I've fallen and I can't get up". This article is about how to get up after a fall.
Falls are a big problem
Falls are a major problem for seniors who want to “Age in Place”. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for a senior to fall and be unable to get up afterwards due to a variety of underlying physical problems - even if no serious injury was sustained during the fall.
As an Occupational Therapist, who has worked in the healthcare industry for 14 years, I have heard countless stories from people who have been trapped on the floor for hours or even days before a family member or friend found them. The longer the time a person spends on the floor, the less likely they will be able to return to living independently.
While lots is written about calling emergency services, I thought it would be helpful to focus instead on simple techniques to help yourself. This article is about "how to get up".
Lots about prevention. But what to do if you fall?
There is a great deal of information currently available regarding ‘fall prevention’ strategies (E.g. remove throw rugs, increase lighting, add grab bars), but there is very little information out there on the topic of ‘fall recovery’.
People seeking solutions for how to get up after a fall are usually taught a 'basic fall recovery technique' or informed that there are a few equipment options available for purchase. Unfortunately many people can’t perform the basic fall recovery technique and most people feel the equipment designed for fall recovery is too expensive - and the truth is that even if they did own it, it is unlikely it would be sitting immediately beside where the fall occurs.
Now you might be wondering why doesn’t everyone just use a life alert system. The answer is that many people can’t afford the monthly payments for the service and the reality is that a high number of people won’t purchase a life alert system until after at least one fall has already happened.
How to get up if you fall: suggested techniques
I had a small epiphany while sitting in my living room a few weeks ago and realized there are actually many things that people can do to successfully get up from the floor. I made a short video showing these ideas. In under 10 minutes it shows 10 different fall recovery techniques. Now, obviously each person watching it will have different strengths and weaknesses so all of the techniques won't work for everyone, but the most important thing people will come away with is how to creatively 'think outside the box" to better ensure they will find a way to get up (or get help) in minutes.
We hope that you can use these ideas and techniques, so that if you are unlucky enough to find yourself thinking "help I've fallen and I can't get up", you will now know what to do and think instead "It's OK. I know how to get up!"
Please tell others about these ideas
I believe for seniors, and all individuals who have balance problems, that being aware of what to do if a fall occurs is equally as important as being aware of what to do in the event of an earthquake or fire. I hope this short, simple video will find its way into the hands of more neighbors, friends and family members that it will help.
Please use the Sharing icons (on the side of the page) to tell others about this content.
More Insights on Falls.
This article is part of our series on Curated Insights on Falls. For our Curated Insights series, the Longevity Explorer team of Citizen Analysts is searching the Internet for the best available answers to what they see as "the critical questions on falls to which seniors seek answers."
Medical Alert Systems: Guide
And for those readers who do want help and advice navigating the selection of medical alert systems, we have been doing a lot of research in that field, and have developed a guide that helps people choose the best medical alert system for their specific life circumstance.
Checklist: Fall Proofing the Home
We have an article about Fall-proofing the home of an older adult, and it has a handy checklist. You can read it online (or download a paper copy) here.
Discuss, Comment, Ask Questions
from Jack Reynolds (unverified) at Nov 6 2019 - 9:23am
If you can sit up after a fall the easiest way I have found to get up is to place a thick book or two on the floor next to the kitchen table and chair, turn around place one knee on the books. one hand on the chair and one on the table. press yourself up.
from Jazz (unverified) at Nov 5 2019 - 12:36pm
Thank you for this information. I have MS and fall regularly due to spasticity in my right leg. We dont always have the personal alarm on as it is recharged at night. Thanks for the tips.
from Anonymous (unverified) at Sep 29 2019 - 3:40am
from Lisa Kunkleman (unverified) at Aug 4 2019 - 8:29am
I appreciate this information greatly. My mother and I watched it after she had gotten on the floor and couldn’t get up. We work together to find some ways that she could get up in the future. Thanks so much for posting.
from TexanForever (unverified) at Apr 23 2019 - 1:01pm
Excellent flick. ... At 87 I took my first fall last night where I couldn't get up due to adema and weakness in both legs. I rolled over, crawled to the bathroom on my knees to where I could use the commode and nearby sink to pull myself up. I had to use two nearby fleecy moccasins as padding for my knees against the hard floor but made it. Thanks for the tips.
from Georgia Griffith (unverified) at Feb 21 2019 - 4:00pm
My cousin falls all the time at home and we cant pick him up. we got an IndeeLift machine that he sits on and it lifts him up easy. very good.
from Georgia Griffith (unverified) at Feb 21 2019 - 3:59pm
My cousin falls all time and we cant help. He got an IndeeLift machine and it helps lift him up easy.
from Darlene (unverified) at Jan 22 2018 - 6:46am
What do you do if a larger person falls on top of you?
from Lucie Richter (unverified) at Jun 27 2017 - 7:28pm
We watched your video with great interest and excitement here at Mobilix (mobilixinc.com). This is the best we've seen out there!
Our first product, Upstå is a stable structure that (1) enables people with physical impairment to get down to the ground and up again in an independent, safe and elegant manner. Whether you want to participate in floor exercises, garden or reach that book that fell on the ground, Upstå is there to empower. (2) Upstå also serves as a exercise device to sustain and regain mobility, e.g. to practice sit-to-stand exercise et al. (3) In the case of a fall with no injury, Upstå may be used in conjunction with a caregiver, partner or friend instead of another lift call to 911 or putting caregivers at risk for lift injuries (resulting in workers' comp for SNFs and ALFs).
We currently have a fully functional prototype (welded and super sturdy) and are seeking input from experts like yourself before finalizing the design. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and would greatly appreciate if we could connect by phone or in person. Please email me at lucie (at) futuremedicalsystems (dot) com.
I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
from Anna Cornelissen (unverified) at Jun 26 2017 - 5:46pm
Tha k you for tge video. Itcwas very helpful,but suffer from terminal illness Pulmonary arterial Hypertension. When I fall I have employed some of the advice in the video, but find I have no strength in my legs. My arms are fairly strong but there was nothing stable in the bedroom I could use. I pressed the panic button on the house alarm and my son came to my assistance. He could not lift me either. He got pillows and blankets, covered me and I fell asleep. After a few hours of sleep I felt strong enough to roll over and grabbed an easy chair and lifted my body with my arms and elbows!! Not a pleasant experience as I also have knee problems. I am 75 years old.
from Rhonda B (unverified) at Jul 3 2017 - 2:13pm
It was a smart move to push the panic button on your house alarm to get your son's attention. Once you were able to, it sounds like you used a cleverly modified version of the standard fall recovery technique shown at the start of the video. Very smart!
Since you have already experienced one or more falls & know that you have difficulty getting up from the floor, it would be wise to keep a cell phone on you at all times when you are moving around your home. If you do not have a cell phone, you may want to consider investing in a monthly life alert service that consists of a device you wear with an emergency button that you can press to alert family and/or 911 you need help.
You noted that getting up from the floor was both exhausting and painful. Another thing you may want to consider is to invest in a piece of fall recovery equipment, so you have it readily on hand in the event another fall occurs. Examples can be viewed in this article: See Falls – Equipment to Help You Get Up Again
I very much hope that you will not experience any more falls, but if you do it is helpful to be prepared. Some additional tips are identified in this article for things that can be done to maintain health and/or enhance the chance of getting someone's attention if you have fallen and find that you are unable to get up. Ways to Rescue Yourself After a Fall
Thanks again for taking the time to share your experience with others!
I hope that you will find every day ahead to be filled with smiles and love
from Robert Jenkins (unverified) at Jul 20 2016 - 3:58pm
From statistics, 1/3 of those over the age of 65 fall each year. What's alarming is that 47% of those that fall are UNINJURED but cannot get back up on their feet. They need assistance from a caregiver in order to be able to stand, etc. However, this promotes an even greater challenge as lifting the person could result in injury to the caregiver or vice versa. A company in the UK has been very successful with their lifting cushion products that can lift someone that is uninjured from the floor and position them in a seated position. Their products are making their way to the US and Canada, so hopefully those with loved ones that fall can benefit from these type of products which also allow the fallen person to be lifted in a dignified manner instead of being intimidated from the use of a large mechanical type lift.
from Rhonda (member) at Jul 27 2016 - 3:37pm
Thanks for sharing! I definitely agree. European manufacturers offer some great products for this market.
I am the author of the article above and the person demonstrating the techniques shown in the video. Of note, I am also one of the authors of a website called homeability.com. On homeability.com there is a page specifically devoted to the different fall recovery equipment and the pros and cons of each type, which also includes the type you mentioned. See Falls – Equipment to Help You Get Up Again
And, what if a person can’t get up or quickly get someone’s attention that they require help & the person doesn’t have fall recovery equipment? In the following article, we provide some helpful fall recovery strategies for these cases as well: “I’ve Fallen!” Tips for Rescuing Yourself After a Fall
from crissmadair (member) at Nov 2 2015 - 1:48pm
As a home health nurse I always tell people if they can't get up themselves then they need to call 911 (EMS) for help because they may be injured. I like having these options to try first so that people have options to help themselves. Even if your spouse can't pick you up they can help by bringing books or a chair to help. Great information!
from TOM MILLER (unverified) at May 20 2015 - 4:12pm
i'm 77 and have fallen way too many times. you have given me some great ideas.
from patti (unverified) at May 12 2015 - 4:43pm
Actually your video was quite informative and I don't know why some are boo-hoo'ing it. I found video #3, 5, 1, 6, 8, 2, 4, 3 and 9 especially helpful. Now that I am old I forgot that I used to do those exact moves when much younger. Of course, however, I was on the floor for other reasons than a fall.
from Nina Krueger (unverified) at Nov 4 2014 - 10:04am
I fell. My husband looked at me and said "I can not help you". I pulled myself from the corner where I landed over to my heavy sofa. I got hold of the wooden leg. And I pulled myself into a sitting position. Then I went face first into the sofa seat. I got hold of the cushion and pulled myself the rest of the way up. My husband was amazed. My arms ached the next day and I was black and blue in several places the next day but I did it and now I know I can do it when ever I need to. I am never going to get rid of this sofa.
from marjolaine maarten (unverified) at Oct 26 2014 - 9:15am
my daughter and i practice getting; me upfrom various places in the house and garage; it helps to have someone standing by...also lots of giggles as i'm chubby; but when not desperate....good way to feel safer if the worst happens
from MJ (member) at Oct 1 2014 - 12:23pm
Although the video is very interesting & useful & thank you for creating it, for me & i'm sure for other elderly and a little over wieght do not have the strength in their arms or hands to lift the body as you suggest, & i think a lot of us also have knee problems<SIGH> my main problem is falling outside in the garden & also when inside going up stairs, i have obviously got myself up eventually<BG> else i wouldn't be typing this. my contribution is to relax and not panic. i fell the other day in a very narrow area easy to get up from next to a bench with curly metal legs , except my shoe got hooked onto one of the legs, which made the shoe too tight to just slip off, eventually i got un-hooked, but had visions being there forever<VBG> cheers, MJ
from Rhonda (member) at Sep 29 2014 - 5:40pm
Hi Julia. Thanks for the positive words and for drawing attention to the very important point that each person who experiences a fall has different physical skills. The video was created in response to that very fact. Many of the patients I treated over the years, who had experienced a fall, said that they weren't able to get up using the 'one' basic fall recovery technique taught in rehab clinics. A lot of people spent a day or more on the floor waiting for someone to hear or find them. They all wanted to know "What can I do next time if it happens again?" I hope this video will help inspire more people come up with their own creative ideas when they look at the environment around them, in order to find a way to get up or get help sooner.
For persons who have difficulty with shoulder problems the 'basic fall recovery technique' shown at the beginning may actually work well. But if it doesn't work, then something like the "book tower" would be a possibility (if books happen to be nearby), or if there isn't anything nearby to help in getting back up, then putting the Glute Scoot or Inch Worm into action can help make it more likely to get help in a timely manner.
Thanks for the feedback!
from likeitaged (member) at Sep 26 2014 - 8:56pm
I appreciated your film on ways to get up if you fall. I noticed that in quite a few of your rises you put your arms in back to raise yourself. Myself and quite a few of my friends and acquainteces have sholder problems and our sholders would not go in back of us for these lifts. Thank you again, Julia
from Rhonda (member) at Sep 25 2014 - 11:04pm
Great recommendation! I've added in the subtitles. To access the subtitles, click on the "YouTube link" at the bottom of the embedded video screen above. Once there, click on the "cc" button in the bottom right corner.
Most people associate falls with seniors only, but the truth is seniors aren't the only ones who find themselves unable to get up after experiencing a fall. It is likewise a problem for many of my younger patients who are limited by illnesses or pre-existing physical problems. Due to viewers varying ages and ability levels, everyone who sees the video won't be able to perform all the techniques (as stated in the beginning of the video), and obviously everyone won't have the same items nearby if they fall, but my hope is that it will inspire more people to turn on their own, creative "MacGyver-style thinking" to find an effective way to rescue themselves if a fall occurs.
Thanks for the comment and thanks for watching!
from Ben (member) at Sep 24 2014 - 6:49pm
Thank you Rhoads, for sharing an informative video. However, it would be great if you could include subtitles for the hearing-impaired? Or if you could get someone who can put it in for you.
The other thing I noticed is that the MacGyver style techniques could perhaps be safer if it's possible to place those items on a less slippery surface which the carpet / rug presented. And to also highlight a quick check to ensure the furniture is strong and sturdy enough to support the person's weight.
Again, thank you for your tremendous effort with your video and it shows your concern for our aging parents.