You’ve been helping your elderly father for some time. Lately, now, he is having difficulty getting out of bed. You may be in your 40s or 50s, the average age of a family caregiver in the United States right now, and you may not be in the best of physical condition.
It might not be the safest situation for you to provide the right physical support for this individual. It’s always best to consider home care options, but if you are tasked with providing physical assistance to your elderly father, here are several safety tips to keep in mind.
Remember, safety should always be about you first, because if you are injured or are unable to provide the right type of physical support, not only are you at risk of injury, but that elderly loved one is, too.
Safety Tip #1: Understand their mobility.
What is your father’s mobility? Is he able to put any weight on his legs? Or do you have to transfer him from the bed to a wheelchair? If he has no physical strength whatsoever to hold himself up, the entire burden will be placed on your back.
Safety Tip #2: Set your limits.
If you weigh 140 pounds, for example, and he weighs 260, that’s way beyond reasonable. You need to set limits on yourself. Yes, you want him to be safe and maybe you think you’re the only one who can help him, but that’s not true.
You may be able to hire a home care aide for just two hours in the morning to assist him getting out of bed and getting going into the day. Just one other person there to support you can help alleviate a lot of that pressure from your body.
Safety Tip #3: Always bend at the knees.
Never, ever bend over at your hips to lift something up or assist somebody. Position yourself in such a way that you can keep your back relatively straight and use your knees and legs to provide the lifting power. If you can’t do this, get help.
Safety Tip #4: Clear the area of tripping risks.
Before you attempt to help somebody out of bed, from a chair, or even into or out of the shower, make sure it’s safe to do so. Anything that’s on the floor that can trip you or that senior is an unnecessary risk.
At the end of the day, remember that home care aides often have a great deal of experience doing this type of work and it may be a safer option for you and your elderly loved one.