Elderly Falls and Calling 911
“Oh, no, he’s fallen down!”
Those are the words a caregiver dreads hearing, or even thinking, whenever someone elderly falls. Falling can cause serious injuries, such as broken hips, pelvis, legs and arms. Falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths for those over 65 years of age. These kinds of serious injuries often lead to hospital stays and permanent disability.
As a caregiver, you know falling is dangerous.
Once an elderly person has fallen, here’s what you can do:
- Check the patient. If the person is unconscious, call 911. Don’t move him.
- If the person is conscious, and able to communicate, then let him rest for a minute to adjust to the shock and discomfort. The person may be dizzy for a few moments. Stay with him and continue to check his condition. Look for bleeding, bruises, broken teeth and broken bones.
- If the person reports pain in the hip, groin or back, has bumped his head, or is dizzy and disoriented, then it is best to call 911 to have the patient checked by EMT’s.
- When you call 911, remember to tell the symptoms, the history of falls, the location of the fall, the activity that was being performed, and the time of the fall. This acronym can help:
SPLAT, which stands for
Symptoms, Previous falls, Location, Activity, and Time of the fall.
SPLAT provides a quick medical summary of the patients fall history.
Here is a sample conversation:
- “Hello, I am Jane Jones, and my mother, Betty Smith, who is 88, has fallen by the kitchen cabinet at home about 15 minutes ago when she was getting a drink. She has fallen before. She has high blood pressure, and she bumped her head on the cabinet when she fell. She can’t get up from the floor, but she can talk. I am with her now.”
You have included the basics to let the emergency operator know what has happened. The 911 operator will ask you for more information about the patient’s condition and about your location. You should stay on the phone if at all possible.
When someone falls and appears to be seriously hurt, make that 911 call and remember SPLAT.