Picking him up off the floor

My OH has SPMS. He has difficulty with walking and balance and has deteriorated quite rapidly over the last couple of years. He is a stubborn and determined man and there is no doubt that this has kept him upright and working for as long as it has. Life definitely has had to be adjusted to accommodate his needs and we have just moved into a bungalow last week.

Last night he fell again. His knees don’t bend so when he goes it’s like a tree falling. Having struggled to get himself up for a few minutes he called for help and my daughter and I ran to help him up. It was so stressful and difficult and he was so angry with himself and the situation, made worse by the fact that he needed the toilet and didn’t want to wet himself in front of our daughter. Eventually we got him up and out of the room but not to the toilet in time. It was all very upsetting.

I am only 5ft2. My OH is 6ft and 13 stone. I need to know how to help him up when he falls so that I both help him and protect myself from injury. Last night my wrists were throbbing where he had grabbed onto me so tightly. Does the MS Society offer workshops for carers maybe, should I speak with his nurse, or does anyone know of any other agencies/companies that offer something helpful. We’re in the London Borough of Bromley, OH is under Kings College.

Any advice would be very welcome.


Sorry to hear of the difficulties you are all having right now.

Speak to his nurse in the first instance - they have probably been through this sort of thing many times before.

You could also speak to the British Red Cross with regard to training for your OH and yourself in similar situations. Your OH would benefit from such training as well - grabbing on to you so tightly your wrists were bruised/throbbing is not the way to go. Many years ago one of my brothers had both legs in plaster and, as a family, we had training to handle getting him in and out of bed, off the floor should he fall etc.

There may be things that both the above can suggest - even, dare I say it, mobility aids such as rollators or walking frames - also from experience, I know that the realisation that such aids are required is not a good one but the question really is; what is worse, using a mobility aid or face planting?

Grab rails around the house - I have them around my place for when my balance goes on the fritz - right now my OH is making great use of them (he put his back out at the weekend moving heavy stuff).

Hope you and the OH get some assistance.

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Hate to say it, but I think the key is to prevent the falls, not to get coaching in how to pick him up. It’s never going to be safe for someone of your height and build to be picking up someone of his height and build, regardless of any amount of training.

You say that he is stubborn, and I agree that can be a positive thing. But I think he needs to be assessed by an occupational therapist for help in avoiding the falls. I’m not suggesting he go into a wheelchair, but perhaps he does need to consider some kind of walking aid around the house - or does he have one but he won’t use it, or it’s not helping?

You are both at risk from him having these repeated falls, with no intervention to make them less likely. Him because one day it might not just be a matter of getting him back up, and there could be more serious damage done, and you because none of us are getting any younger - you’re not miraculously going to get better at picking him up as you grow older - it will get tougher. And he’s not miraculously going to start falling less, unless he adopts some specific tools and techniques to avoid it - which he needs specialist advice on.

I’m stubborn myself - my father was stubborn. I well remember during his final illness (which wasn’t MS by the way - he didn’t have MS), he had numerous falls, but wouldn’t have a stick or anything. My heart used to be in my mouth just watching him, but I didn’t want to be constantly at his elbow fussing, and waiting to catch, as he didn’t like that either.

So I do know this from both sides: (a) being the stubborn person, but (b) watching a stubborn person, and having to deal with the consequences of their stubbornness.

If it’s pride stopping him having something to help, would Hubby reconsider if he fully understood the impact it’s having on you - the stress of just waiting for it to happen again, and being powerless to stop it, and also the physical risk to yourself of trying to shift him once he’s down? Does he understand how scary but also how physically beyond you this is, and that it’s causing you harm? Might it give him cause to reconsider, if he thought he wasn’t making changes for his own sake, but to protect you?



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He does use walking aids, he has a scooter for outside the house and uses a stick indoors, we’ve been talking just at the weekend about investing in a walker/rollater for around the house now that we’re on one level. What happened last night was just one of those things, he missed the sofa as he sat down and then couldn’t get back up and it developed rapidly from then.

Please don’t think that his stubborness translates as selfishness. We’ve been together for 30 years, married for 25 of them, had MS in our lives for the last 16 years and have laughed our way through more than cried. He was upset to think he’d hurt me last night and is well aware how difficult it is to pick him up. I just think we would benefit from some professional advice on the practical matters now and appreciate the advice and support offered.

I’ll speak with his nurse and look into the British Red Cross.

Thank you.


how about care call (or something similar) its not just for old folk! they would pick him up safely.

physio can suggest aids for at home to help you-like lifting belt and instruction on their safe use.



I’ve heard of people calling the emergency services in similar circumstances, usually the ambulance service -

hope you get help from some of the wonderful suggestions you received.

he’s a lucky man having you around, although unlucky having ms around.

carole x

These falls sound hugely more risky if he cant bend at the legs - his head is going to swing through a significantly longer path and all the time it is going to be accelerating, so I agree with Anitra about preventing the falls. I think you should check there are no hard objects low down that his head could strike. What about a urinal that he could just pick up and use rather than struggle to get to the loo in time.

Hi Carole

I’ll tell OH you said he’s lucky to have me, I tell him everyday

I appreciate everyone’s suggestions and will discuss them with him.

Best wishes


l have frightened my family and friends by falling down - and l go down with such a wallop. Now l use a rollator - it give me so much more stability. lt has a good seat and backrest plus a large carrier to keep remote/phone/tissues/books - allsorts in. Mine is designed so that it can be used on uneven ground - so good for getting about the garden - and stable enough so that l can balance a watering can in it. Now l can get out to do things in the garden - pick beans etc. Also, one of those round laundry baskets fits on it and l can hang out the washing. This was a risky job previously - and often meant l was on the ground.Also, l now can get to the loo in record time! My Rollator is a Topro Olympus - recommended by Patrick from this site.

To get up - l try to shuffle to the hallway and use the stairs. Push to get on the bottom step - then gradually the next until l can stand up. l hate people picking me up - and do not let them. Plus - it is dangerous to the helpers - could injure them. l am only 9.7. but it is still a weight.

l think you should ring for the first response ambulance 999 they know exactly how to get you up. We have often called them for a elderly lady opposite. They arrive in a few minutes. Get her up - take her blood pressure and make sure she is ok and then go.

As your husband is SPMS - do read all the links to Biotin for Progressive MS. l joined them - its a facebook group. l have been

taking Biotin for 4 weeks - and l am doing well. After 33yrs of PPMS - lts the first time something, that at last, research has discovered something to help us.

As it would take our NHS years to get interested and provide Biotin - l have gone ahead and bought my own. £120 for nearly a years supply. A bit different from the cost of DMD’s.

Maybe his MS nurse could refer him to a physiotherapist.

I pay for specialist neuro physio.

Amongst other things she’s covered falls prevention and management and has taught my husband a technique to help me up.

Even if your husband wasn’t so much bigger than you lifting a dead weight is all but impossible, as you know it’s not like just giving him a helping hand. Injuring yourself in the process isn’t going to help either of you.

As someone else mentioned calling an ambulance is always an option, but if he’s conscious and breathing and apparently uninjured with the demands on the ambulance service you may have to wait a long time for them to arrive.

All the best xx

Thanks spacejacket (love the tag name!)

That’s really useful information about the rollator; we’ve started looking at some online but it’s good to have a recommendation, especially if I can send him out to the garden to hang up the washing! haha.

I’m not inclined to call an ambulance unless I thought OH was hurt. And I will look into the Biotin, I haven’t heard of it before but I haven’t been on the website/forum for a very long time.

Best wishes


Another thought spacejacket

do you have threshold ramps in your house to get through external doors? If so, any particular type/design/brand you found helpful?



I started to write a reply to this yesterday, but then my iPad ran out of battery. Argghhhh!

I’ve been told that we should call out the paramedics if I have a fall and need help getting up. I’m on my own with my two boys (11 & 14) so there’s no way they can lift me. We’ve asked neighbours for help in the past, but they’re too old now to make helping safe - the last thing I want is for them to do their backs in.

My eldest helps a lot. I asked Young Carers if they knew of an organisation that could give him some training re lifting, supporting etc, and there isn’t any.


Call the 111 line and say that it is a non-emergency, but your husband has fallen and cannot get up.

In my area they have specialist crews - when I could not get up off the floor, the paramedics had an inflatable airbag setup that got me up to bed height.

They are not allowed to lift manually, so why should you even try.

Like the others have said,the key thing is not to fall in the first place, and a physio can do something about this.


Angelina - no l do not have threshold ramps - l do not need them. l do find the rollator - with a bit of practise - is easy to ‘shove’ through anywhere. l can even manage a kerb/step with it.

l am safer to be left to my own devices with the rollator - as long as l keep it by me. To know l am safe with a dinner plate -mug of coffee - things that l could not do with sticks.

Although, outdoors - l do find walking poles a great help - holding me upright. Anything to prevent me from being in a wheelchair all the time.

Biotin is working for me - and now l have learnt about B 1 - Thiamine which l now take alongside the Biotin B7. All the B vits are water soluble - so you can’t overdose.

We have paramedics - rapid response - who are out in minutes. And they are only too pleased to help. And they do not insist that they take you to hospital.

My OH has type 1 diabetes - and has had some episodes when he has needed urgent help. l cannot manage him when this happens - and no way will he let me give him something to eat or drink. He becomes like the incredible hulk. lts frightening. The Paramedics told me to ring them first - then keep away from him. ln case he lashes out - without knowing he is doing this of course. He still does not believe me when l tell him what he is like.

l believe ‘rapid response’ team are reliant on contributions from the public. Like the Air Ambulance. They were telling us about the cost of the new equipment that they now have to carry - that is designed for the morbidly obese. Costing thousands. Our local swimming club do sponsered swims and raise lots of money for this and the Air Ambulance and local hospices. Last year they raised £14,000 pounds. Not bad for a small village. Recently, they paid for a ‘deflibrillator’ - which is kept at the swimming pool [and the training of someone to use it] which can be used by paramedics etc.

Physio will help your husband with his painful stiff legs. Magnesium also helps. Pilates type of core strength exercises are great - and most can be done whilst sitting.

Thank you Doctor Geoff

That’s really useful to know.

I’m looking into the physio, I think it’s time Mr Reluctant had a bit of outside help.

Best Wishes