The Proper Lifting Techniques for Assisting the Elderly

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As you age muscles weaken and bones become brittle. This combination can make it difficult to complete daily activities like walking, sitting and getting out of bed. Older adults fear falling because a fall might mean being stuck until help arrives -- or a more serious injury.

Knowing proper lifting techniques for the elderly helps older adults and their loved ones to maintain quality of life and stay safe.

Lifting from the Floor

When an elderly person falls to the floor, it is best to get them to a seated position first. Use whatever safe props you have available. In other words, if a sturdy table or chair is nearby or a walker or wheelchair are regularly used, these can be of assistance. However, make sure the area is safe and the device is not going to move unexpectedly. Do not have them stand up on a throw rug or use a chair with wheels. If no devices can be used, put the individual in the recovery position -- the person needs to be laying on his left side, right side if it is weaker. Position him with his left arm extended on the ground and supporting his head. Help him bend his knees. Place the right arm in front of the body with palm down close to the chest. Ask the person to help push himself up to a seated position while you assist or if easier to get on all fours on knees and hands. From all fours, the person can lift the hips and buttocks higher.You can put hands around the person's waist to help them lift to an upright position.

Lifting While Seated

To get from a seated position to standing will be more difficult if the elderly person is on the floor or sitting on a low chair or bench. From the floor, put the person's hands on the floor on the left side of their body. Then place the person's right foot flat on the floor with or without a bent knee. Ask the person to shift his weight so he can put the left knee on the ground and right foot on the ground. Use momentum to lift the person from kneeling on one knee to a lunge position with one foot in front of the other and then to standing. If the person is seated in a chair, have the person use his arms to push up. While doing this, stand in front of him and put his hands on your shoulders. Circle your arms around his waist, clasp them together behind his back and gently lift him up.

Lifting from Bed

To get someone from bed to a wheel chair, you may need to provide assistance. Put an arm around her back and one under her legs. Help swing the legs around to dangle off the side of the bed while shifting her upper body so she is close to the edge of the bed. To put the person in bed, follow the same directions in reverse.

In General

Get close to the person so you can support him if he falls when assisting an elderly person. Keep your legs in a stable lunge position or at least with legs apart rather than right next to each other. Make sure you wear supportive shoes. Keep your posture in alignment, pivot and avoid twisting -- you are not as strong when the spine is twisted. Watch that your head and neck stay in alignment and use a lifting belt if needed. Ask for help if you do not feel strong enough to complete the task.