Watch Your Back: Lifting Techniques for Caregivers

Contributing Author | Shield HealthCare
08/18/17  2:30 PM PST
Lifting techniques for caregivers

Caregiving can be physically strenuous. Besides taking care of your loved one, caregivers need to take care of their own health. Follow these guidelines to ensure the comfort and overall safety of both your loved one and yourself.

Related Article: 5 Tips for the Working Caregiver


Self-Care Guidelines to Follow

Secure and order your physical environment:

  • Make sure the environment you’re caring for your loved one in is comfortable, spacious, and clutter-free.

Judith Sexton, foundation administrator for Home Instead Senior Care, states: “The physical environment should support the caregiving, not hinder it”. She points out that by maximizing the accessibility, comfort, and safety of the home or room, it will support the caregiver as well as the patient.

Learn proper body mechanics:

  • The ultimate goal is to move yourself and your loved one around in the most safe and effective way possible. Follow these rules on day-to-day movement and self-care to ensure the safety of your body:
    1. Maintain proper posture.
    2. Wear shoes that will help you maintain posture; wear shoes with low heels to prevent tension from affecting your lower back.
    3. Sit in supportive chairs and keep your head erect so that you are not slouching. You can use a low-back cushion to help maintain the natural curvature of your spine.

Avoid back strain and injury

  • Caregivers should try to improve and maintain muscle strength and flexibility to lower chances of injury. Refer to the guidelines below to diminish chances of injury:
    • Don’t lean in at your hips during standing activities (ex. brushing your teeth). It adds pressure on your back and can affect your neck and shoulders.
    • Don’t stand in a fixed position for too long. Periodically redistribute your weight by placing one foot on a stool or chair.
    • Don’t sit for an extended period of time. Stand up for at least a few minutes every hour to stretch and move around.


How to Lift a Patient

  1. Communicate with your loved one before attempting to lift or move them.
  2. Explain how the lifting/moving process works – and if they are mentally and physically capable of participating, ask them to provide as much help as possible.
  3. When you lift your loved one out of a chair or wheelchair, first make sure the wheel brake is on. Set one foot behind the other to steady yourself. Then stick out your buttocks (squatting position), keeping your spine aligned and shoulders squared, and spread your feet to maintain stability.
  4. Use a transfer belt. The belt provides something to hold on to during the lifting/moving process.
  5. Bend your elbows slightly and keep your wrists straight. Tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your chin tucked when lifting.
  6. Use your hips and legs; do not use your back. Keep your loved one close to the center of your body. Shift your feet in the direction of the location you will be moving toward and lowering them in. Bend your knees and not your back, as you lower.

Additional Lifting Tips:

  1. Carry the smallest amount of weight possible to avoid injury.
  2. Never pull heavy objects; push them instead.
  3. Keep weighted objects centered. Don’t balance objects on a single hip.
  4. Don’t twist or bend the trunk of your body when picking something or someone up. Instead, move your feet and turn your entire body in the direction you are moving.


For more information, check out this article: Lifting Techniques for Home Caregivers 


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