All This New Technology Is Great, But What I Really Need Is Help Getting Dad Out of His Chair!

With the current condition of today’s economy and the rising costs of long-term care for the elderly and disabled, many baby boomer’s and Generation Xers are finding themselves called upon more and more frequently to minister to the daily needs of aging parents. Maintaining mom and dad’s independence and quality of life as long as possible without having to hire expensive home health care aides, or even more expensive admissions to long-term care or rehabilitation facilities not only becomes a matter of the heart, but a matter of economics as well.

As people get older their muscles gradually become weaker and their bones more brittle. This combination of deterioration can make it difficult for the aged and disabled to execute even the simplest activities like just getting out of bed or their favorite chair. When the caregiver is a spouse, or a middle-aged son or daughter, the risk of injury to both parties becomes even greater.

Always remembering to use proper lifting techniques helps older caregivers stay safe and avoid the risk of injury to either party. If you do not feel strong enough to help the patient, or have sustained a recent injury yourself, common sense dictates that you should not attempt to lift the person at all. Get help, either from a friend, or another more fit family member, or from a professional caregiver trained in the proper handling techniques of the elderly. If you injure yourself while trying to help mom or dad, then you’re only going to compound your problems and perhaps injure the individual you’re trying to help.

Lifting The Patient from a Seated Position in a Chair to a Standing Position.

The most common situation a caregiver finds themselves in is simply trying to help mom or dad up and out of their chair. First, position the person as closely to the front edge of the chair as possible and standing directly in front of him or her, put their hands on your shoulders. Then, remembering to keep your spine and neck properly aligned, put both of your arms completely around the seated person’s waist. Clasp your hands together behind his or her waist and then gently lift them up, using the muscles in your legs as much as possible. Try not to lift with your back, as doing so may cause injury and pain for you. Try never to twist when lifting, but rather only pivot from your feet if you must twist; twisting can cause painful and lasting injury, and should be avoided when possible.

Lifting the Patient from a Bed

To help someone out of a bed to a chair or wheel chair can be a bit more tricky. To do so, put one arm under the patient’s back and one under their legs. Ask them to help swing their legs around so that they eventually dangle over the side of the bed. As in lifting from a chair, position the patient’s body as close to the edge of the bed as possible.

Then, get as close as possible to the person so you can support them if they start to fall and ease them out of bed until both of their feet are firmly on the floor and they can support themselves appropriately while standing. Always keep your legs in a strong position, knees slightly bent, legs apart, always ready to support the extra weight of the patient if necessary.

Whenever caring for someone else, make sure you wear sensible clothing and shoes, and that you are aware at all times of the patient’s position relative to you and the changing situation. Keep your posture in proper alignment, pivot, and avoid twisting — you are not as strong when you’re twisted. Always ask for help if you do not feel strong enough to complete the task.

In all situations, try to remember to never lift with your back, and never lift anyone or anything that you’re not capable of safely lifting!