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Mom’s had a fall! What do we do next?

“Mom’s had a fall.”

Hearing these words can be terrifying for adult children. When someone you love falls for the first time, the first thing people feel is often disbelief. “Oh my goodness, are they ok?? What happened?? They’ve always been so independent and in such great shape!”

Sometimes people feel guilty. Was there something I could’ve done to prevent this? Did she fall because I haven’t been spending enough time there? Maybe I’ve been neglecting her needs and didn’t notice that she’s been getting weaker.

So many questions, not enough answers

Most often people feel fearful and at a loss of what to do. So they do what we all do and ask Google! They need solutions but instead, often end up with more questions than answers.

Many just feel even more overwhelmed with the search results.

Is it grab bars she needs? But if she needs grab bars, she will never let me do that! She is so proud of her home.

Maybe she just needs to have someone with her at all times?? But this person on Facebook says it costs their family $20,000 a month! That’s crazy! We can’t afford that!

Maybe it’s time for her to consider assisted-living? But wait, I can’t find out what the cost is unless I tour each and every one of them to find out what their current promotions are?? I’m in California and she’s in Florida. What now?!

Cue the swirling emotions of overwhelm.

 Take a deep breath

Let’s put all that aside for just a minute. First, breathe. There’s no need to panic and definitely no need to take someone else’s experience and assume that will be yours.

There’s a very big difference in the level of care needed between someone who was previously healthy and active versus somebody who has been sick for years with chronic illnesses and has NEVER exercised.

There is also a huge range of potential solutions depending on the variables. More options isn’t always better. For example, Arms on the shower chair are great for someone with arthritic knees that need help from the arms to get up but can be a significant fall risk for someone who has visual issues or left neglect from a stroke that might cause them to bump into the armrest and lose their balance.

Ask the right questions

A better way to figure out what is needed is by formulating the right questions. The only way to get on the right track for the right solution is to understand how they got there.

Here’s where to start:

Find out what happened.

  1. Was this just a fluke accident? Was that baking dish just too high and that’s why they fell backwards? Did they genuinely not notice that there was another step? Did the dog see a squirrel and pulled them forward?
  2. Did they have a fall in the shower because they were dizzy? Did they fall in the bedroom rushing to get to the bathroom before they had an accident
  3. Did they turn on the lights when they entered a room
  4. The more details you can gather, the more information you’ll have to understand what the reason is behind it and if this is an easily solvable one or not.

Are their vitals good?

  1. When was the last time they had a physical done? Are there medical issues that need to be addressed that they haven’t got around to yet?
  2. Have they had their vision checked? Are they noticed more stumbles when they are going to the bathroom in the middle of the night?
  3. You’re looking for what’s different than their normal independent self.

How are they physically?

  1. Are they feeling weaker? Are they in pain? Are they needing more help Day to day?
  2. Have they noticed things getting harder to do like getting in and out of bed?
  3. Are they still doing all the things they used to?
  4. Are they exercising? How are they staying strong?
  5. Did they used to go to the gym three days a week but can’t now due to Covid?

Is pain stopping them from exercising?

  1. Did they used to walk with their friends but their knees are hurting too much now?
  2. Maybe they hurt their back lifting something out of the trunk of their car and that pain is still not resolved so they’re not back to their normal routine.
  3. Ask if pain is the reason someone has stopped a favorite activity. If it’s not getting better on its own after a few weeks, it’s definitely worth discussing with your doctor before the inactivity makes you weak enough to be at risk of more falls.
  4. You are looking for any circumstances that has stopped them from being able to stay as active as they usually are.

 Are they taking good care of themselves?

  1. What are their lifestyle habits like?
  2. Do they keep a good schedule and routine?
  3. Do they drink enough water?
  4. Do they eat quality food?
  5. Are they getting quality sleep?

 Is home maintenance becoming an issue?

  1. Are all the lights working in the house?
  2. Do they have rugs that need to be taped down?
  3. Are there carpeted areas that have lifted it up?
  4. Do they need help sorting through newspapers that have piled up?
  5. Do they have anything that needs to be moved that is too heavy to do? 

How to prevent another fall

If they fell outside:

  • Check the vestibular system for balance issues
  • Check the visual system to check depth perception and ability to adjust to bright sunlight
  • Were they using a device?
  • Should they be considering using a device?
  • Are their shoes fitting properly?

If exercise is the problem:

  • Can they find a buddy to exercise with every day?
  • Are there classes at their local senior center?
  • Are they text savvy and could do YouTube exercises?

If they fell in the shower:

  • Would they be open to having Grab Bars installed?
  • Would they consider it if they were hidden in place? There are lots of beautiful ones these days that improve market value in a home.
  • Would it be helpful to have a private caregiver come three days a week to supervise showers?
  • Is there a place for them to sit down if they’re dizzy or feeling low in blood sugar?

If they tripped on the way to the bathroom:

  • Would they consider hardwiring in motion detector lights?
  • Could they benefit from lights that come on automatically underneath the bed?
  • Could they consider a shoe rack so shoes aren’t left in the middle of the room and become a trip hazard?
  • Do they need some help decluttering or prioritizing?
  • Could a professional organizer be the catalyst to finally sort through 50 years of memories in boxes that are narrowing the hallway?

Falling once increases the chances of falling again

It’s so important to be proactive and prevent a second fall. Studies show that once you’ve had a fall, the chances of having another one are extremely likely in the following 30 days.

The biggest concern is after a second fall, someone may develop a fear of falling which then promotes a vicious cycle of even more falls. So while there’s nothing to panic about right now, it is important to not push it to the side either.

Ask the right questions so you can get on the right path. If you need guidance on which direction to take, Evolving Homes can help. Send an email to for your free phone consultation today!