Lifting your loved one in a way that is safe for both of you is important. All the wear and tear on your body can cause lasting damage if you don’t make injury prevention a priority. Even if you don’t normally have to help with lifting, it’s good to be prepared. Seniors especially are at an increased risk for falls and can also have health issues that limit their mobility.
Keep Them Safe
For caregivers of frail parents, lifting can be a scary prospect. They seem delicate, and you may worry you could hurt them. Here are a few simple steps to help prevent injury to your loved one after a fall:
- Prepare the house. Choose high, firm seating instead of low, soft couches. Add railings and raised toilet seats. Ensure there’s ample space anywhere a transfer is likely to occur.
- Let him do what he can. For example, an elderly parent may have difficulty standing up from a chair, but he can slide to the edge of the chair before needing assistance.
- Hold onto the trunk of her body. Lifting a senior by her legs or arms can cause injuries.
- Learn how to perform safe transfers for specific situations. The National Caregiver’s Library offers brief tutorials for many common transfers.
Take Care of Yourself
As a caregiver, you probably tend to put your loved one’s needs in front of your own. This can be dangerous, especially when it comes to transfers and lifting. You should focus on injury prevention for yourself, as well. Some steps to take include:
- Stay healthy. Remain physically active, get enough sleep, and eat a balanced diet. The healthier you are, the easier your caregiving responsibilities will seem.
- Make proper posture a habit. Keeping your head up, shoulders back, and back straight minimizes stress on your back.
- Wear supportive shoes with nonslip soles. This will help ensure you have the support you need if you have to lift your loved one.
Learn to Lift
Learning to lift correctly is also a great way to be prepared in case you need to help your loved one. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers these lifting tips for home caregivers:
- Maintain proper alignment of your head, neck, and spine.
- Keep the person who is being lifted close to your body.
- Lift with your legs and arms. To do this, bend at your knees, not at your waist.
- Don’t twist your body to turn. Instead, step to face your entire body in the other direction. Twisting can injure your back.
Know When You Need Help
Knowing when you need help is key in injury prevention. Calling a friend or family member, or asking a neighbor for help, can make all the difference. You may also want to consider a medical alert device for your loved one. These devices allow seniors to call for help with only the push of a button. If transfers are a normal part of your caregiving duties, there are a number of aids available for injury prevention. A transfer belt is just one example. Ask your doctor or medical supply provider for more information.
Lifting your loved one is one of the most dangerous tasks you face as a caregiver. Being prepared in advance and learning how to do transfers properly is a great way to focus on injury prevention for both of you.