Elderly people struggling with arthritis, muscular dystrophy, or post-operative conditions often have severe difficulties getting in and out of a sitting position and it can be a challenge for caregivers to give the proper assistance. However practical it may seem to simply pull the person in need up by holding their hands or tugging on their upper arms, in reality there are more appropriate techniques to help someone stand safely. In order to avoid injury to either party, it is important to follow a few basic guidelines when offering assistance.
First Determine Whether Assistance Is Needed
A common mistake that worried families tend to make is to jump to the aid of their struggling elderly loved one, when in fact the senior is capable of standing on their own provided they learn the right techniques. There is also a wide variety of equipment available that can help to ease the strain of the process, letting the senior keep as much of their independence as possible. Inadvertently making the elderly reliant on the help of a caregiver could do more harm than good, resulting in accelerated muscle degradation, loss of energy, and even weakened bone strength. It is in the best interests of all involved to let the senior move on their own for as long as it is safe for them to do so.
Methods to Stand Without Help
While standing aids might be a great help, if at all possible it would be best to first master a technique to stand without any outside support in case such equipment is not handy. Firstly, before attempting to straighten up, the feet should be moved about shoulder-width apart. After scooting to the edge of the chair, instead of pushing upwards it is best to lean forwards and straighten without putting too much pressure on the knees or hips. The technique can be practiced by starting with a chair as high as a barstool and gradually moving to lower seats. If the elderly person has issues keeping their balance or gets dizzy, it is best to use the thighs as additional support and slowly ‘walk’ themself into a standing position with the hands.
If standing without an aid is too difficult, then there are various tools available to help. There are inconspicuous bars that can be installed onto most couches, chairs, or recliners, such as Able Life’s Universal Stand Assist that can support up to 300 lbs, or the Stander EZ Stand-n-Go ergonomic assist handles that have a heavy duty version with a weight capacity of 400 lbs. Portable lifting seats are also a great solution if you do not want to spend a fortune on a lift chair. The Carex Upeasy Seat Assist is not only affordable but self-powered as well, and is able to support up to 340 lbs.
Providing Proper Assistance
If the elderly person is unable stand on their own, then the caregiver should first make sure the person can scoot forwards in their seat. As this may prove challenging, placing a pillowcase on the cushion before they sit will make it possible to tug the elderly forward without wrenching their joints or putting painful strain on the helper’s back. When lifting the person, the carer must always face the same direction and take a wide stance at the elderly’s side rather than at their front or back. The senior should then be lifted primarily by an arm around their waist, while the other arm can provide stability under the armpit.
Always Have a Backup Plan
Accidents could happen at any time, regardless of whether the elderly is attempting to stand on their own or with the assistance of a caregiver. In case of an emergency such as the senior falling while attempting to stand alone, a means of immediately getting help is vital. A medical alert system, especially a fall detection button, is a safety net that could save the life of your loved one by getting them the help they need in time.
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