Is there a device to deal with falls?

26 answers | Last updated: Oct 12, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father has Parkinsons and is falling more often. He weighs significantly more than my mother. Once he falls he is like dead weight that she cannot pick up. He is very proud and has laid on the ground for quite some time before he allows her to call someone for help. Is there a device or something that would help her get him up?

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Your question about a device to deal with falls due to Parkinson's, as well as your father's pride made me stop and think.  Also, I consulted with geriatric care managers who are members of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.   

There are lifts that might work, but it is hard to imagine a small aging woman safely lifting a large husband off of the floor.  You could go to  and choose the heading products for patient safey and then lifts and slings.   There are pictures of the lifts.  Also there are lifts that can be attached to the celing such as SureHands. Another web page is

Can you help your mother work with a team to prevent falls?  The falls may signal that he needs to go to another level of walker, wheelchair, or caregivng helper in the home. 

He needs assessment by a physical therapist.   A Geriatric Care Manager would be of help. His movements around the house need to be observed. Why does he fall one time and not another? Is there a pattern to the time of day when he falls?  Does some event make him nervous or out of balance or careless?  Could medication be an issue? 

Working with your father's pride is not easy. What is your father's finest character trait? What does he like?  What makes him feel his dignity? Does he need someone to listen to him, beside your mother?  Is there any way to get a caregiver in to help? Find small ways to bring comfort  to your father. 

While you are working with professionals to assess and help medically, you can uplift and enrich his world even though he has to bear a very difficult sickness. 



Community Answers

Pnschmidt answered...

This is a very important issue.  The National Parkinson Foundation has funded a series of studies on falls prevention and a researcher named Toby Hayes has done some great research on falls prevention.  I am formerly a biomechanics reseacher and have found the devices offered to help prevent falls are... unrealistic, logistically.  I think that Hayes's approach of analysing the factors that affect propensity to fall and correcting those that are controllable -- glasses prescription, gait parameters, etc -- is a good start.  Search for "hayes wc" in pubmed .

A fellow caregiver answered...

Falling can be very dangerous. Sometimes, it's ultimately fatal. It's certainly never fun.

There are mobility devices that are really good at preventing falls.

I use one of these:

Ladydawn answered...

Is this postural instability caused by by the Parkinson's disease or is it related to syncope or orthostatic hypotension as a side effect of medications taken either for PD, a cardiac contition or another issue? Postural instability can also be a byproduct of depression for which PD does not lack.

There is little help through medication. Although I do not trust a lightweight walker, it may be of some value. A cane with the legs at the bottom might do the job - two might work even better. There is value to having handrails installed in hallways and even bathrooms just as they are on stairways.

One important aid is exercise. Gait exercise can be crucial. I suggest asking for a referral to a therapy center so that gait training can be initiated. Gait training would include lenghtening of stride, learning to open at the hips for a wider stance. The smaller the space between the legs, the less option to maintain balance. Lifting the legs almost in a march rather than shuffling and sticking to the floor.

Other exercise is also important. Range of motion, flexibility stretching and yes, even strength training and breathing. Yoga exercises can help. Nautilus is important. There are small pieces of equipment which can be purchased for home use. Don't neglect hand exercises. Being able to grip is crucial.

I am wondering if Dance Therapy might not be helpful. Although its effects will not be physically apparent after the music stops, there might be a psychological-confidence effect which impacts postural instability due to PD depression. And it is F U N! You can both take part. Even in your living room. Get those endorphins going.

Another possibility is to locate a therapy center which has Forced Exercise equipment and aqua therapy. Water exercises can be of benefit to a PD patient because of the bouyancy effects of exercising-marching in the water. And Forced Exercise - not on a treadmill in this case unless there are trained spotters - but on the motorized exercise bicycles which compensate for the patient's inability to maintain the necessary rpms on his own. For some people these bikes are an affordable option for home use - for others, they are not. But the bike must be able to maintain between 80-90 rpm.

Naturally there are aids such as shower seats (with backs or transfer seats), grab bars in the tub/shower area (no suction cups please), hand-held showerheads with longer hoses and on-off switches to prevent unnecessary standing in the shower. Soap on a rope.

No PD home should be without bath/shower aids even if they are not needed immediately. Knowing how to use them and using them regularly helps to train the body so that when the equipment is needed, there is kinetic memory to reinforce the use patterns. (Yes, I am a believer in the possibilities of kinetic memory to resist the tightening muscles and I have seen it work with my husband in entering/exiting the shower after the side effects of dehydration - another story - had some temporary but dire cognitive effects)

I think that not nearly enough is available to address postural instability in PD. PI is discussed as a later symptom because it is apparent then. To many it is an invisible side effect as a very early symptom. Everyone talks about falls, the risks, prevention and the role they play but we haven't found many solutions to address the problem by fixing the chemical imbalances which cause the problems.

At this point prevention and exercise seem to be the best methods. One exercise that should be included is practicing turns on the floor (when assistants are present to help the patient rise) By repeatedly rehearsing turning to a position where one can pull up to a kneeling position and then make use of a solidly built walker with brakes, this proud man could learn to help himself and his wife. (Another argument for the other forms of exercise accompanied by some strength training).

One last thing, this proud man might take better to the exercise suggestions if he understood that he was doing it not just to maintain his body but also to benefit his wife's peace of mind, security and physical safety from injury. And wouldn't it be wonderful if it helped.

additional reading:

Benji answered...

My husband has Dementia with Parkinson's. He is very tall, and weighs more than I do. His B/P will drop at times, and he will fall to the floor. I check to see if he is injured, and then talk to him until he is able to understand, (when his B/P is a bit better) and then coax him along until he can get up on his hands and knees, and crawl to the bed or something firm that he can crawl up onto and get to a standing or sitting position. It takes some time, but it is a method that has worked for us frequently. B/P changes are noted to be a problem with his disease - Lewy Body Dementia.

Austingal answered...

My dad has had Parkinsons Disease for 14 years and recently started falling. My mom also has trouble lifting him so now he usually crawls to a chair or the bed to help in standing back up. The physical therapist had mentioned there is suppose to be a technique that a PD person can follow to get up easier after a fall. Unfortunately she never showed us how to get up after a fall and he no longer goes to physical therapy. Anyone?

Ladydawn answered...

Have a home safety evaluation conducted. These are often done by occupational therapists -- they'll survey the home, the patient functioning in their own environment and make safety recommendations. They need to know the patient has fallen in the past and what the ensuing problems have been.

I did a search and did find one device which seems rather expensive but perhaps there are other sites with similar devices. Most of the items on this page are to assist people in rising from chairs or a bed but one is specific to falls. It appears that the patient will need to be able to help a bit as well:

This next link shows exactly how the device works:

Same information if you can't view pdf format:

From 2006 is a document which doesn't address this specific problem but does provide insight into the engineering problems. Don't give up, on or about page 81 you will see a questionaire which might be used in a home/patient assessment.

It is important to remember that any attempts to physically lift a fallen patient begins with following back safety rules for the lifter. Have the patient help.

Always bend at the knee to use the thighs for lifting. Do not use your back. The longer you body position, the less leverage you will have and the greater the possibility for injury. You are not pulling the patient up in one movement.

The process is step by step beginning with calmly encouraging the patient to roll to a crawling position. You may be able to assist with that. In that way the patient may be able to get to his/her knees. You can't easily lift a patient who is full face down or on his/her back. Once the patient is on their knees, if they are unable to rise from a kneeling position, they may be able to pull up on sturdy furniture or walker. Or you may be able to brace them (arm around your shoulders and both of you rise from a kneeling position. The caregiver must keep a straight back to avoid injury. ( I can feel the pain in the small of my back from doing this incorrectly)

A fellow caregiver answered...

A hoyer lift would help and medicare will pay for 80% of it.

Kirsche answered...

My husband has been falling for a couple of months. He only falls backwards. His prime care doctor prescribed a wheeled walker because of he gait, but the problem is that if he starts to fall backwards the walker goes with him. So he won't use it at all. We have had bad luck with our neurologist and he is seeing a new one. I'm hoping that he will be able to give advice. He is also not on any medications as his first doctor tried two and they didn't work and the doctor gave up. Now we are on a roll with the new prime care and the new neurologist and he just started physical therapy. I think the therapy will be a big help. He was misdiagnosed 8 years ago with post polio syndrome and just about two years ago we discovered he has Parkinson's. I know, as many others have said here, that pride is a big factor, especially for men. My husband does not want me to help him when he falls or tries to get up from the couch. It is very frustrating.

Quince answered...

Regarding the peerson who always falls backwords, Tipically a PD patient will fall forward, A friend of mine had that experience and found later that he didn't have PD but his caroded arteries were blocked. My wife has had PD for 30 years so We've heard a lot of things about PD over the years.

Ladydawn answered...

For Quince,

Since there are no lab diagnostics in place to make a PD diagnosis, misdiagnosis is not unusual. Missing a blocked carotid artery is somewhat odd as there are other tests to rule out other conditions and cardiac exams should certainly be done (especially on men although women are closing that gap).

I wouldn't necessarily expect a referral to a cardiologist from the neurologist but I certainly would expect it of the primary care physicial.

Here's the problem: many health insurance plans only allow one diagnostic referral per major issue. The primary car doc may have had to choose: cardiology or neurology. This is a serious defect in health care and is probably responsible for many people being treated for the wrong condition.

One of the TRAPs of Parkinson's disease is Postural Instability in which the patient can develop either a forward or backwards lean. Due to increased rigidity and torso stiffness, the patient is less able to protect his/her body. Couple this with with orthostatic hypotention or with PD loss of sense of balance and there is a higher risk of falling because of a freeze.

There have been excellent suggestions posted already. One more device which is actually used for training is the Medigait virtual walker - there is also audio walker training. Just cut and paste in your browser or click the link:[]

Kirsche answered...

Thank you for the input on my husband. He has a cardiologist and sees him regularly. He has other symptoms of Parkinson's, such as the gait the stone face, the loss of 60 lbs, the start of dementia, fatigue, no appetite, choking and trouble swallowing. I believe they have it right this time.

Ladydawn answered...

I'm sorry, the last time I posted these URLs I didn't do it properly.

Here are links to a videos of one lift device. It isn't inexpensive. They run around $3,000.

The device is the Camel Air Lift Cushion[]

Another video shows another way it can be used but I don't think this would work well for someone with PD.[]

There is a method to help people get up from the floor, and your mother and father may be able to use this method to help them. Your mother clearly cannot lift your father from the floor, because of their weight difference, but even lifting someone much lighter can result in injury to one party or both. We prefer to assist the fallen person to get up using this method:

  1. Check for injury. If he is injured, call 911.

  2. If he is not injured, reassure him, and encourage him to take a few deep breaths to regain his composure. Falls make people panic.

  3. Help him to his hands and knees. This may be done in a few steps:

    a. Help him to roll onto his side.

    b. He then needs to use both hands to push himself to "side-sitting" position (if he was on his right side, he is now sitting on his right hip, knees bent, with his right arm propping him up, hand flat on the floor).

    c. From here, he can rock forward to his hand and knees.

  4. Bring a sturdy chair for him to lean on, or help him to crawl to the sofa or bed.

  5. On his knees, he places his arms on the chair or sofa, and pushes himself up so he can either perch to sit in the chair or sofa, or push himself up to stand. This may take a few attempts, especially if he is stiff. If this is difficult, try a lower surface, like a sturdy footstool.

  6. This method takes practice; if you practice it every day or several times a week, the techniques will be familiar when he falls. It will be easier to do the whole sequence if he has practiced it.

Al peraza pt, dpt answered...

As a doctor of physical therapy, I have addressed this concern many times with my patients. Please check out It is a useful device that is much less expensive than a Hoyer lift device and will allow your father to actively participate with his fall recovery which will provide him some personal dignity that he is wanting to preserve as he ages.

Samo answered...

Yes, I have had great success with a HELPER inflatable lift. go to

Ladydawn answered...

Despite all my previous blather, I prefer the roll-over and get to hands and knees method.

One caveat: make sure there is something firm - secure - for the party to grab onto or they will end up pulling their "ladder" on top of themselves.

We used this method for my husband until the last week of his life and it was effective. He could do it on his own when he wanted to do so.

A fellow caregiver answered...

TO: Kirsche Just read your online description and frustration with your husband's condition--My father has had the exact symptoms you listed...and we are looking into the possibility that he has "PSP" or Progressive Supranuclear Palsy--That may explain the backwards falling, stone face, fatigue, etc..

A fellow caregiver answered...

Hi The original question was "Is there a device to deal with falls? " The answer is: Yes there are two products available: visit and take a look at either the "Camel" or the "Elk" Hope this helps.

Oceanbeach answered...

This video has some techniques for those of us who can't kneel, don't know if any of them would be helpful, but here it is.

A fellow caregiver answered...


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A fellow caregiver answered...

I share the same concerns expressed on this forum in lifting a fallen person off of the floor. I am 65, 6-3, 265 lbs and have a 98-year old father (6 feet 165 Lbs) that I am caring for. Even with my size I was having a lot of difficulty getting my father vertical after a fall, and no mater how I did it, it was hard on my back.

I have a possible solution that may help some of you deal with this situation. I built an extended automotive mechanics "creeper."

A creeper is a low platform (with casters) that an auto mechanic typically lay on and use to slide under vehicles. I built my "creeper" out of stuff I had around the house (consists of a board, four rotating caters, and a couple short pieces of 2x4). The board I had available is 64 inches by 15 inches, but could be any length or width that best fits the person being lifted. A longer board is easier to tilt up, but is more difficult to maneuver in close spaces. I put the casters about eight inches from the ends to allow the board to angle under the person when the board is tilted, to make it easier for my father to slide up onto the board if scooting from the end. The board can be mounted from the side (person rolling onto the board), or whatever way is convenient. Once the person is laying flat on the board (feet and all) it can be rolled to a clear area before tilting up. I fastened a 2x4 to the end of the board to act as a foot stop when tilting up, and a 2x4 at buttock level to keep from sliding down the board as it is being tilted up. I put some rubber sticky stuff on the end that contacts the ground (when tilted) to prevent slipping while tilting up. We have only used it one time so far, and it did the job quite well with no strain to my back. When tilting it up, I face it towards a wall that has a secure hand rail installed. The wall prevents the person from toppling forward after the lift, and the hand rail stabilizes the person being lifted while I remove the board. If the person being lifted has upper body strength, you could fasten a rope or strap to the handrail so the person lifted could assist by pulling on the rope as the board is tilted up. Future improvements will be a cushioned head rest. One thing I did notice is that if the board is slick it is easier to slide onto. The whole thing cost me less than $30. Take a look at the different auto mechanics creepers available (which have cushioned headrests). There should be enough room under a wood creeper to fit and fasten a long board customized to your needs. I call mine the "Josie-Flyer" after my dad, Joe.

A fellow caregiver answered...

There is a new Product from Indeelift Inc. that allows anyone to get a fallen person of any size off of the floor without

My Step-mother had to get my much-heaver father up from the floor many times and this tool was made to do just that. Getting people get off of the floor without hurting either party or calling for outside assistance. What a blessing this can be for those in need!

Kimmykoolbeans answered...

My father has fallen 5 times in the last week. Getting him up is not the problem, but protecting him when he falls is. He has bumped his head several times. Is there a inflatable bubble or something?

Vita78 answered...

Hi there, as a Physical Therapist, I specialize in treatment of Parkinson's Disease and related gait and balance impairments. A few things to consider prior to discussing lifting and assistance devices: 1. Orthostatic Hypotension--causes lightheadedness, very common in PD and is often overlooked. 2. Changes/New medications that may cause dizziness 3. Is he on enough Levodopa meds (Sinemet or other to help with movement initiation and discontinuation) ..Now as far as mobility: Does your father use a walker? A U-step walker (They also sell a cane) has a laser on it and it helps many people with PD provide external stimuli as well as (slow down the whole head over feet :"running" gait). If your father experiences freezing or festinations (hard time starting gait after standing, had time getting up, feet "jogging' in place, but not moving forward-then skilled Physical Therapy can help. LSVTglobal is a website you can go to and look up a specialized PT/OT in your area. I am also LSVT trained and it helped me learn best techniques to help PD patients prevent and overcome freezing. Hoyer lifts and Sit <>stand lifts can help you with getting your loved on up off the floor, but I am sure your goal and his would be to minimize falls. I forgot to mention a few other, non conventional walking aides: Nordic poles help to encourage a reciprocal arm and leg movement and lift chairs help to minimize orthostasis. Good luck

Mobilepatientlifts answered...

If your loved one is falls down, is uninjured and cannot get back up, you may want to look at the Mangar Camel or Elk lift cushions. They are gaining popularity here in the US.