Lifting and Transferring: Tips for Family Caregivers

Seniors with limited mobility will often require assistance from their family caregivers in order to move from one area to another, such as from their bed to a wheelchair or from their wheelchair to their bed. It is very important for family caregivers to know how to correctly lift and transfer their loved ones before they attempt to move them because improper lifting techniques can put seniors and family caregivers at risk for injury. In this article we would like to offer some tips for family caregivers on how they can lift and transfer their loved ones easily and safely.

The first thing that family caregivers should do is assess the health and weight of their loved ones before trying to lift them. Family caregivers that are used to lifting and carrying light weight objects will probably need assistance when lifting and transferring an adult. Those who will need assistance to lift their loved one should make sure that they have another adult available such as a friend, family member or hospice team member before trying to move their loved one. It is always best for family caregivers to be patient and wait for assistance so that they do not put themselves and their loved one in danger. Family caregivers should also consider their loved one’s health condition before lifting them. Seniors that have broken bones will need to be moved more carefully and family caregivers will need to make sure that they are not bumping their loved one’s injured area when moving them.

After family caregivers have considered the health and weight of their loved one they should make sure that they follow basic safety precautions when lifting and transferring. To start, family caregivers should always make sure that the wheels are locked before moving their loved one into or out of a wheelchair so that the chair will not roll out from under them while they are being moved. Next, they should make sure to keep their loved ones as close to their body as possible when lifting them to protect their back and give them a sense of security while being transferred. If necessary family caregivers can use transfer aides such as a transfer board or gait belt to help them transfer their loved one safely. Family caregivers can buy transfer aides online from several different retailers that specialize in elder care products.

Proper lifting technique is also very important for family caregivers because it keeps them from injuring themselves while lifting their loved ones. Family caregivers should keep their back straight while lifting and transferring because back injuries are very common in people who do not follow this precaution. For extra safety, family caregivers can tighten the muscles in their abdomen which will protect their back. They should also keep their head and neck aligned with their spine to avoid pulling the muscles in their neck and shoulders while lifting. In order to keep the spine in its proper alignment, family caregivers should avoid stooping over, bending at the waist and twisting their body while lifting and transferring their loved one.

The safest way for family caregivers to lift and transfer their loved ones is by using their leg muscles to lift. They should stand with their feet shoulder width apart to balance themselves and should propel their body using their leg muscles instead of the muscles in their back. Family caregivers should position their loved one so that their feet are on the floor before moving them and can then allow their loved one to grip their shoulders for support. Many family caregivers find it very helpful to use a transfer belt when moving their loved one from a sitting position because the transfer belt can help secure and balance seniors to make lifting and transferring them. When positioning seniors into a sitting position, family caregivers should make sure that they firmly grip the arms of the chair before putting their loved one down so that the chair will not slide out from under their loved one when weight is placed on it.

Following these tips is a good way to ensure that family caregivers and their loved ones are safe at all times during the lifting and transferring process. Family caregivers should always make sure that they ask for help before lifting their loved one if they are not able to lift them on their own or if they are not sure that they can lift them properly on their own. Family caregivers that injure their back while lifting their loved one should also make sure that they heal properly before trying to lift them again. It is important for family caregivers to remember that their health is important as well as their loved ones because they need to be in good physical condition so that they can provide their loved ones with the best possible care.

For more information and related articles in our Home Care Services blog: