No one wants to have a fall, but if you live alone, or are alone for long periods, you should plan what you'll do, who you'll contact and how they'll get to you. The quicker you can get help after a fall, the less likely you are to experience unnecessary fear, distress, and complications like pressure sores and dehydration.
Calling for help
You can call for help many ways. The most important thing is that the person you call expects it and knows what to do.
Decide which of the following is the most convenient and effective way for you to call for help:
- using a phone, autodialer or intercom system
- using a community (personal) alarm
You can also summon help by calling out, or banging on a wall or floor, but this could be difficult if you're unwell or hurt and it's too difficult to move. Using a phone, or alarm, is more reliable.
You might also consider asking a relative, friend or neighbour to check in regularly, either by phone or by visit.
Using a phone
If you decide that using a phone is the safest, and most effective, way to call for help, you should consider buying a mobile phone, even if it's just for emergencies.
If you buy a mobile, remember to:
- keep it charged and topped up with funds if it's a pay-as-you-go phone
- keep it on you at all times
- share your number with a relative or neighbour and tell them that the number is for emergencies. That way if you run out of battery or lose signal before you have a chance to talk, they'll know that you need help
You can also call the emergency services for free even if you've no credit.
Using an alarm
An alarm is something that raises attention that you've had a fall. This could be a community (personal) alarm, where you keep a transmitter on you and another person has a receiver. That person could be a relative, friend, neighbour or monitoring service.
If you decide to get an alarm, it's important that you understand the costs involved as some companies may charge you each month for setting up and monitoring your alarm.
More about community alarms
Letting help in
After deciding how you'll raise the alarm, you must now think about how they'll get to you. If you lock your doors when you're at home, it can be difficult for someone to gain entry. They might have no other option but to force the door.
You might consider:
- leaving a spare key with a friend, neighbour or relative you trust that lives nearby
- leaving a spare key in a key safe – a secure box with a combination lock that you can keep outside your home. This can be accessed by anyone that you have shared the combination code with
Sharing your plan
Once you have your plan ready, it's a good idea to share this with your family and friends and let them know what to expect and what to do in the event of a fall.