How Do You Help an Elderly Person Stand?
When it comes to helping an individual with limited mobility stand up or transfer from one location to another, your own personal safety is just as important as theirs. Many times, for individuals who have problems raising out of chairs or moving from one location to another, it may be tempting for the person assisting them to attempt to take on their full weight without taking proper precautions. Poor transfer techniques can lead to back injuries and an increased risk for accidents, such as falls and back injuries, which can injure both the elderly person in need of assistance and the helper.
To help an elderly person stand, make sure you practice proper transfer techniques, such as shifting the center of gravity, lifting from the waist of the individual instead of the arms or legs, and making sure the individual who is being lifted contributes to the process as much as they are able.
Medical professionals and caregivers, from geriatric physicians to nurse aides, can provide detailed instruction on how to best assist an adult in standing up from a sitting position without increasing your risk of injuring yourself. In any case where you need to lift or move a person or patient who weighs as much or more than you, using the proper transfer technique and following medical guidelines is key to preventing complications, falls, and injuries to both parties.
When making a transfer out of a soft, sunk-in surface, make sure to use caution, as these surfaces are more likely to cause additional difficulties to the transfer process than solid chairs. Making sure that you have a safe base for transfer, such as a solid-armed chair or raised toilet seat, is the first step to performing a safe, successful sit-to-stand transfer. If you or your loved one finds themselves in a situation where they require frequent assistance to help raise themselves from a sitting position, consider investing in a lift recliner for your living room, as most soft surfaces are difficult to raise from without additional assistance.
When assisting with a transfer, you should never pull or lift the individual’s arms or legs. This can cause damage to both you and the individual you are helping. Instead, a good transfer technique requires you to lift from the waist area, as this is the most solid part of the human body and acts as a center for the bulk of a person’s weight. Lift belts can assist with this kind of transfer by providing a surface that you can hold onto while aiding with the upwards movement.
Here are some easy and helpful tips to help make sure that you do not injure yourself or your loved one while participating in a transfer from one location to another. While helping an individual who is heavier than you stand up from a sitting position can be a challenge, following these easy tips can help make sure that the transfer process goes smoothly and easily every time.
Tips for Lifting a Person Who Is Heavier Than You
Much of the instructions for helping transfer an individual with limited mobility who is heavier than you is similar to the standard medical transfer guidelines. Making sure that the individual is on a stable surface that is locked into place and has no possibility of moving suddenly or rolling can help prevent issues during the transfer process itself. For an individual who weighs considerably more than you, or who may require additional transfer assistance, having a secondary caregiver to aid in the process can help prevent injuries along the way.
For an individual who weighs more than you, making sure to communicate your intentions with them clearly can help make sure things go as smooth as possible during the transfer. Having the individual move their legs so they are positioned under the bulk of their body can act as a lever to help assist in the upwards movement needed to stand, and as such can take some of the stress off of the assistant in the case of an uneven transfer process. Much like a regular transfer assist, lifting near the waist area is the safest way to aid an transferring an individual who weighs more than you do, without doing damage to the lifter or the liftee.
If you find yourself physically unable to assist an individual in transferring from one location to another, or are concerned about causing damage to yourself or the individual, call medical services to gain advice or assistance in moving the individual. For some people, transfer is impossible without the assistance of a medical lift or trained medical professionals. In this case, it is important to make sure that you and your loved one avoid injury by following the advice of medical professionals at all times.
Even while following medical transfer guidelines for individuals with limited mobility, accidents can still happen. While no one wants to think about the worst-case scenario, in the case of a fall, quick and smart action must be taken to ensure the safety of the elderly individual as well as the aid giver. Here are some steps to follow in the case of a fall, and what you can do to help an individual who has fallen and requires assistance to stand again.
What to Do in Case of a Fall
Before continuing with any of our other tips, if you believe that the individual who has fallen was injured in any way, such as serious bruising, broken bones, or unconsciousness, call 9-1-1 immediately to get the help and advice of medical professionals. If you are unsure if the individual has been injured, it is wise to call emergency services to make sure that there are no serious injuries that are not immediately obvious, such as internal breakages. Once these steps have been taken, and you are sure that the elderly individual who has fallen is not in immediate danger, you should follow these suggestions to allow you to help them return to a standing or sitting position.
If you are assisting an individual with a transfer and they begin to fall, do not attempt to catch the brunt of the fall, as this can cause serious injuries to you and the individual who is falling. Instead, focus on minimizing possible damages as they fall by protecting the head and neck of the individual who is being moved. This can help prevent more serious injuries on the way down, and can ensure that the elderly individual is as unharmed by the fall as possible.
The amount of assistance that can be provided to the individual who has fallen largely depends on the mobility of the individual themselves. There is no immediately safe way for any individual, regardless of fitness level and personal strength, to safely lift a full-grown adult from a prone position on the floor without risk of serious injury to themselves and the added possible risk of dropping the individual. Talk to the person who has fallen to see if they believe they are able to move themselves. If the answer is no, medical professionals should be called immediately to assist in the process.
If the individual can move themselves, bring two chairs or other sturdy sitting surfaces close to them if possible. Assist the fallen individual with rolling over onto their knees by acting as a stability fall-back. You should not be pushing or pulling the fallen person in any way, shape, or form during this process. In the case of past knee injuries or sensitivity, lay down a towel or coat for them to kneel on to help provide some comfort during a stressful situation. Remember, you are not there to do any of the lifting, merely to guide and assist with the process as needed.
A chair should be placed in front of the individual at eye level so that they can place both of their hands on the seat of the chair. A secondary chair should be placed behind them for them to move towards as they lift themselves up. While you may assist them by keeping them steady as they move, make sure that you are not bending or twisting your back during this process, as it can cause damage to you as well as your loved one.
Here is a YouTube video demonstrating how to help someone who has fallen:
Once the individual with mobility issues is safely seated in their chair, make sure to give them ample time to rest before attempting to return to a standing position. If they are safely in the chair, and there is no chance of a secondary fall, it is advisable to keep them in the chair for a short amount of time to allow the fright from the fall to wear off.
When it comes time to assisting with the transfer from sitting to standing, if you believe you are physically able to aid in the process, follow the above tips for a general transfer in order to return the elderly individual to a standing position safely and calmly. As with any accident or emergency situation, it is always best to contact medical professionals first to ensure that there are no further injuries or complications to the fallen individual or the transfer assistant.
While trying to assist an elderly individual or other individual with limited mobility to stand from a sitting position can seem daunting, following these transfer steps closely and carefully can make assisting an individual in transferring from one location to another much easier. Making sure to not rush the process, and follow these guidelines carefully, can help ensure a safe, smooth transfer from one location to another for any individual, and can help you safely care for your loved ones.