“That will never happen to me!”
“I don’t have time to plan for the future. I’ve got enough on my plate right now.”
“Thinking about an emergency makes me anxious. I’d rather watch television or go for a walk.”
When it comes to planning ahead for emergencies, do any of these statements sound like you?
We don’t like to think about the worst-case scenario. It’s easy to avoid talking about tough topics. Instead, we’d rather focus on pleasant experiences or getting through our day-to-day tasks. Yet, our attitude often prevents us from adequately preparing for potential accidents.
We can live in denial or we can procrastinate, but that will just lead to future stress down the line. Preparing yourself for how to handle an emergency is crucial. In a crisis, it’s hard to make decisions or come up with solutions. Our “flight-or-fright” reaction makes it difficult to think clearly.
That’s why we need to be proactive, rather than reactive. By educating yourself in advance about how to handle a fall, you can make the experience easier. When you know how to navigate a fall, you’re also more likely to reduce your risk of negative long-term outcomes. In this article, we share the most important strategies to help you feel ready.
Planning Ahead For A Potential Fall
We don’t want to expect that we will get hurt, but we will vastly benefit from planning like it’s a possibility.
First off, it’s important to sit down with our family and establish an emergency plan. Ottawa Public Health suggests that we ensure our family or friends can enter our home without our help if necessary. We should also consider buying an emergency response device like Lifeline or another medical alert system. That way, we can ensure that we can contact others if we aren’t near our phones. Additionally, wearing a MedicAlert® bracelet can help emergency responders understand our needs.
When it comes to planning for a potential fall, we can take inspiration from other types of emergency planning. For example, there are many resources with tips to support families navigating a fire or a hurricane. Experts often suggest that families map out scenarios so that they will know what to do in a crisis. We can also map out a potential fall, so we can prepare our space to cope better in the moment of a real incident.
When it comes to seniors and people with disabilities, caregivers need to go beyond basic planning. The Canadian government published a helpful document, the “Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities/Special Needs.” This guide exists to help people prepare for a natural disaster. Yet it offers incredible insights to help people prepare for a health emergency like a fall.
Beyond emergency planning, we can also seek education. What does this look like? Although this might feel silly at the moment, we can learn how to fall so that we can reduce the possibility of serious injury. If we are a family caregiver, we can also plan ahead for a fall or injury by learning first aid. That way, if someone needs medical attention, we can take care of our loved ones while we wait for emergency responders to arrive.
What To Do Right After A Fall
You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? If I fall, I’ll just get back up and carry on with my day,” or “I don’t need to prepare for a fall, I know what to do. It’s common sense.” It’s not that simple.
As a company that specializes in accessible walk-in bathtub conversions, we care deeply about increasing safety in the home. We know that a fall can lead to injuries with lasting consequences on our health, mobility, independence, and finances. We share in-depth details about the outcomes of falling in our article Why You Need To Focus On Injury Prevention.
Yet even if we do our best to prevent an injury, accidents still happen. So what steps should we take?
The moment has arrived: you’ve fallen, or, as a family caregiver, your loved one has taken a spill. First things first, it’s important to stay calm and catch your breath. Acting out of urgency and fear often leads to carelessness and more injuries.
First, check to see if you experienced any injuries. If you can get up, don’t rush! You can spend some time recuperating first. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) provides a simple list of steps for the safest method to get up properly after a fall.
If you can’t get up, PHAC suggests that you yell for assistance or make a noise with a nearby object to alert someone nearby. If that’s not an option, you can try to slide yourself towards your phone or a better location for others to hear you. While you wait on the ground, you can help prevent stiffness and improve your circulation by gently moving. They also suggest using an emergency alert device if you have one on hand.
If you witness the fall, reassure your loved one and assess their condition. If they need medical attention, help them get comfortable and make sure to keep them warm.
Even if you or your loved one seems fine after a fall, there could be after-effects. If you don’t need to seek emergency services, it’s still important to schedule an appointment with your physician. You need to ensure there is no long-lasting damage to your health. In the days that follow, pay attention to whether you experience pain, dizziness, nausea, weakness, or other concerning symptoms. In your doctor’s appointment, they will assess your overall fitness and whether you need to take any action.
While it’s important to learn what to do if you do fall, it’s equally important to learn how you can minimize your chances of falling and getting injured.
Injury prevention includes making changes to your lifestyle to reduce your fall risk. This includes both preparing your body for success by improving your strength and also altering the way you navigate the world. You can get more in-depth ideas in our article, Five Lifestyle Changes You Can Make To Reduce Your Risk Of Falling.
For seniors and people with disabilities, injury prevention can mean outsourcing the daily tasks that put you at risk of falling. This could involve hiring someone to clean your home or help with strenuous home projects. There are many resources available to help you cut down on the cost. For example, seniors could seek out volunteer snow removal services from a nonprofit.
Fall prevention also includes making long-term changes to your home and environment. We share many helpful tips for structural renovations and simple switches in our article How To Make A Comfortable And Safe Home For Seniors.
At Bath Access Ontario, we specialize in bathroom safety, transforming your bathtub into a walk-in tub to improve your accessibility and security. Besides walk-in bathtubs, we also provide options for tub bars and shower grasp bars. This helps make it safer for people to exit and enter their bathtubs. For seniors and people with disabilities who are interested in our walk-in bathtub products, there are tax credits available from the Ontario and Canadian governments to make it more affordable.