As people age they need more care then can be provided by a housekeeper though less than a full time nurse or hospital. This means that a relative, usually the adult son or daughter, will be doing the care of a senior who because of injury or illness is not as mobile as they once were. They will need to be lifted as part of their care. Family caregivers, who often have no medical training in the best methods to move the patient, are winding up with injuries from moving the person wrong. Sometimes so are the patients.
Research has shown the that the caregivers are just as often the spouse as they are the adult child of someone who has been hurt, or has suffered a stroke, or has a medical condition like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or paralysis. No matter the cause these people need to be lifted out of bed and either into a wheelchair or a chair, they need to be washed, fed and clothed. All too often the caregiver, even the professionals, wind up with back pain because of the work they are doing to care for their patient.
What can be done to alleviate this problem? The caregiver needs to learn the best way to lift their patient. This is for their sake as well as the sake of the patient they are caring for. If it’s a relative you will do them no good by seriously straining your back and not being able to help them any longer. If you are a professional caregiver and you strain your back, you will lose income as well as make it necessary for your patient, who may just have gotten used to you and your routines, to have to start all over with someone new.
There are things that can be done to try to lessen the changes of hurting your back if you care for an elderly relative or do care giving as a profession. First, do not lean over too much. It is better to sit down beside someone than to talk to them while leaning over, which will cause back strain. Do not use your legs as the lifting mechanisms learn to lift properly.
If you are helping someone get out of bed and into a wheelchair you must stand with your feet as far apart as your shoulders. If you need to bend do so with your knees. Put the patient’s feet on the floor. Bring the person close to you and turn with them towards the chair. Lean down with them to help put them into the wheelchair. Be certain the patient is holding onto the chair with both hands, taking some of the weight, before you lower them into the wheelchair. Having avoided twisting awkwardly and not using only your arms to take the weight you will have transferred your patient safely for both of you. Keep using methods like this and you’ll be able to do your job without the back pain.