Standing or sitting is something most people do without giving it a thought. However, for older adults, it can be an impossible task that can require assistance. To them, getting out of a chair, bathtub, toilet, getting in and out of a car, or even getting out of the bed can be a problematic exercise that could put them at the risk of injury. As a caregiver, you are responsible for helping them in those situations, which also puts you at risk of injury.
When taking up the responsibility of caring for an older adult who has difficulties getting up, safety should be your number one focus. It would be best to have a therapist or a medical professional teach you healthy and safe practices on how to help an elderly person up from a chair. This article outlines the step-by-step process of helping an older adult up from a chair while ensuring their safety and yours.
Step 1: Communicate the Process to The Patient
Before attempting to help a patient up from a chair, the first thing would be to communicate the process’s run-throughs. Proper communication will ensure that both parties know what to expect and that you are working together, which is critical in ensuring safety. Never rush it through. It’s essential to communicate every time you need to help them up.
Step 2: Get the Older Adult to Sit Towards the Front of The Chair
When attempting to stand, posture can be the difference between success or failure. To get in the proper sitting position for standing, have the elderly person seat almost at the edge of the chair- the chair has to be solid and stable so that it won’t topple. Preferably, the chair should be of such a height that the user’s knees are slightly above their waist when the patient is seated.
Related: How to help an elderly into a car
Step 3: Have Them Lean Forward
Once the patient is seated at the edge of the chair, let them lean forward so that their shoulders are right over their knees with their gaze downwards. This is the normal position that people usually assume when getting ready to move into a standing position. In this position, it will be much easier to help them stand.
Related: Best chairs to get seniors upstairs
Step 4: Stand in A Position to Help Them Up
When helping an elderly person stand, good body mechanics are vital in ensuring your safety and theirs. First, ensure that you are standing on the patient’s weaker side as close to them as possible. Standing beside the patient gives you much control of the patient’s body and uses less energy. Please don’t attempt to lift a patient from behind, as it can cause injuries to your back.
On the other hand, trying to lift them from the front increases the risk of falling and injuring you and the elderly patient. Hold the older person’s hand that is closest to you without locking fingers. Move your hand that is closest to them around their back, holding them around their hips. Ensure that you have placed one of your feet in front of the other for stability while you bend your knees and hips in readiness to assist them in launching forward and upwards.
Related: Getting a wheelchair up stairs
Step 5: Assist Them Up
When you and your patient are ready for lift-off, give a cue to move together, making the process much smoother. You can opt for something like ready, steady, go, or have a countdown to lift. Remember, the idea here is not to lift them but to help them stand. When its go time, support them as the both of you move together in a forward and upward direction until you achieve a standing position.
Once they are up, do not let go until they communicate that they feel steady. Sometimes, the elderly can experience dizziness after standing from a sitting position, making them unsteady. If it happens, help them back down into a sitting position for a moment and help them back up again when they feel better.
Once they are up, you may proceed to give any other form of assistance they may require, like moving around, or you could help them to their walker or any other walking aid that is appropriate for them.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Help an Elderly Person Up from A Chair
What if the person I am assisting is much heavier than I am?
In instances where the person you wish to assist is heavier than you, you will need to be extra cautious for safety reasons. It would be best to engage another person in assisting the elderly person up from their chair or transferring them from one place to another. Where you feel that it might not be safe for you to attempt helping them up the chair, calling in medical professionals would be a great idea. The professional may prescribe the best option for lifting such an individual that may include electronic medical lifts.
What do I do in case of a fall?
If a fall causes broken bones, severe bruising, or unconsciousness, call 911 immediately. Additionally, if you are unsure of the nature of the injuries sustained, it would be best to consult a medical professional to have tests done to ensure they have not sustained serious injuries. Some injuries could be internal and may not be apparent immediately.
After establishing that the fallen person is not in immediate danger, you can start the process of helping an elderly person after a fall. Depending on their mobility after the fall, you can decide on the best method of helping them back up again.
Do I need to be a professional to take up the role of a caregiver?
You do not have to be a professional to take up a caregiver’s role for the elderly. Sometimes the person you are caring for could be your parent. However, it would be best if you sought the advice of an elderly’s therapist who is in a position to give you tips and best practices that will ensure comfort and safety for your patient.
Helping an elderly person stand can be a challenge, especially if it is you the first time you are doing it. However, following the listed steps carefully on how to help an elderly person up from a chair will make the process manageable. Apart from manually helping an elderly up from a chair, you may also want to explore other means of making the process much easier, like using standing lifts.