Transferring Tips for Caregivers

Tips for Caregivers A young girl caring a loved one

If your loved one needs assistance getting in and out of a car or chair, you know that this task can sometimes be challenging. Helping them move from their bed to a wheelchair also presents its own set of challenges. And if your loved one is resistant to being moved, it may be seemingly impossible. Here are some transfer tips to help you safely assist your loved one and minimize resistance.

  • Make sure to give your loved one a fair warning that you are helping them move. The benefits of this are twofold.
  • First, even with limited mobility, your loved one likely has some ability to help the transfer occur safely and smoothly. However, this is only possible if they are aware of the transfer. Two, involving your loved one in the process helps them retain some sense of independence and involvement in their care. Throughout the transfer process, give words of encouragement and gentle instruction. Be mindful that saying too many words may be confusing.
  • Movement is crucial to prevent muscle atrophy and pressure sores due to immobility. However, excessive transfers can heighten safety risks and stress levels. Plan to limit the number of transfers needed. Think about the activities you and your loved one will engage in during the day. Plan out the transfers needed to make that schedule happen. Can any of them be avoided without reducing the quality of life?

Assisting Older Adults with Safe Transfers

  • Be aware of your limitations and avoid straining your back and joints while helping your loved one move. Make sure your feet are firmly planted shoulder-width apart, keep your back straight and knees bent.
  • If the person has difficulty pushing up to stand, help them by having them wear a gait belt. Hold onto this as you help them stand rather than pulling up on your loved one’s arms. If your loved one is able, ask for their help in leveraging themselves out of the bed or chair.
  • Take your time. With each movement—such as rolling onto their side in bed, sitting up, or if in a chair, moving to the front and planting their feet on the floor—take a moment to make sure your loved one is not experiencing any dizziness or other difficulty. Once you have successfully helped your loved one out of the bed or chair and into a standing position, give them a moment to get their bearings, become stable, and avoid dizziness.
  • Make the home environment “lift-friendly.” Any chairs used by your loved one should have a firm seat, and sturdy armrests that will provide leverage when they move to stand up. Make sure there is adequate room around the chair for you to maneuver while helping them stand up safely. Remove all area rugs and other tripping hazards from the home. Grab bars and transfer benches can help with transfers in and out of the bathtub. Handrails installed on the bed or in long corridors can also offer helpful transfer tips for safe movements throughout the home.

This article is courtesy of Active Daily Living.