The final instalment of our series on falls is recovery: what to do in the event that a fall has occurred. Unfortunately, most people do not concern themselves with accidents until they have happened, which is the main reason we need to talk about recovery.
The primary stage is of course physical recovery. In the event of an injury, physical rehabilitation will be the main focus for you or your loved one. Following a doctor’s guidelines, or working with a physiotherapist, is most common.
In the event of a serious injury, there may be major changes to mobility involved. Introducing a mobility aid such as a cane or even a wheelchair can be a difficult adjustment for some seniors. Using an aid of any nature is often perceived as a loss of some independence, so highlighting the importance and vitality of the new aid is crucial. Giving your loved one time to adjust to the idea of an aid is sometimes the most important support you can offer here.
Returning from an injury back to a healthy life is extremely important to preventing another accident. Going back to the ‘prevention’ stage will mean introducing an exercise routine that will strengthen, or re-strengthen, balancing muscles and tune in the brain to mobility again. Start with basic exercises like walking. Advanced recovery may include an activity such as yoga, strength training, or gentle sports.
Don’t forget that psychological recovery is also important. Although your senior loved one may not show it, having a fall that results in an injury can be a very shaking experience. Returning confidence to a senior who has fallen, especially if it has never happened before, can be the greatest gift that a caregiver can give in this situation. Literally like falling off the horse, it is important to get back on it. Don’t allow a senior to resist activities past being given a clear by the doctor. If they are physically capable of returning to activity, a little coaxing may be necessary to rid the brain of the fear of falling.